IBM Cloud Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Karthick Viswanathan, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: Adobe Flex, IBM Cloud, PowerBuilder, Weblogic, Recurring Revenue, Artificial Intelligence, Log Management, Server Monitoring, @CloudExpo, Government Cloud

Adobe Flex: Article

The Transition to Cloud Computing: What Does It Mean For You?

Availability is important for cloud services, but so is security

Cloud Computing on Ulitzer

We are standing on the threshold of a new transition in information technology and communications; a radical departure from current practice that promises to bring us new levels of efficiency at a vastly reduced cost. Cloud computing is full of potential, bursting with opportunity and within our grasp.

But, remember, that clouds always appear to be within our grasp and bursting clouds promise only one thing: rain!

As with all radical transitions, it takes time for the various pieces to fall into place. Some of them are already in place; some of them have yet to be considered. In this article, we will take a look at both and try to gauge where we are today and what work still remains. In addition, we will try to understand what this means to the various stakeholders involved.

Cloud composition
So what is the cloud and who are the stakeholders involved. There are many definitions available, but in simple terms, cloud computing involves providing an information technology service that is accessed remotely. This access can be over a public or private infrastructure, but for our purposes, it is probably useful to consider the Internet as a reference delivery infrastructure.

With this in mind, a simple cloud model would include the following stakeholders:

  • The cloud service provider
  • The cloud connectivity provider
  • The Internet
  • The user connectivity provider
  • The user

The cloud service provider is based in a data center (which we assume he controls for simplicity), where he has a number of servers running the cloud service being provided (e.g. a CRM system, a remote mail system, remote file repository, etc.). He is responsible for ensuring that the servers are up and running, are available at all times and that there are enough of them to service all the users who have subscribed to the service.

The cloud connectivity provider delivers Internet access connections to the cloud service provider and ensures that the cloud service provider has enough bandwidth for all of the users who wish to access the cloud service simultaneously. He must also ensure that these connections and the bandwidth requested are always available.

The user accesses the service remotely, typically through a web browser over the Internet. He also needs Internet access, which is provided by a connectivity provider (e.g. ISP), but only enough to ensure that he can access the service quickly and without too many delays. The connectivity provider ensures that his connection and required bandwidth is always available.

Which leaves us with the Internet. Who is responsible for this? The connectivity providers will typically have control over their parts of the network, but they must rely on other connectivity service providers to bridge the gap between them. The beauty of the Internet is that they do not have to know about all the actors in the chain of delivery. As long as they have a gateway to the Internet and the destination IP address, then the packets can be directed to the right user and vice versa.

The Internet itself is made up of a number of interconnected networks, often telecom service provider networks, who have implemented IP networks and can provide connectivity across the geographical region where they have licenses to provide services.

This brings the Internet and the cloud within the grasp of virtually everyone.

Cloud considerations
For cloud services to work, there are four fundamental requirements that need to be met:

  • There must be an open, standard access mechanism to the remote service that can allow access from anywhere to anyone who is interested in the service
  • This access must have enough bandwidth to ensure quality of experience (i.e. it should feel like the service or application is running on your desktop)
  • This access must be secure so that sensitive data is protected
  • This access must be available at ALL times

Some of these fundamentals are in place and are driving adoption of cloud services. The Internet and IP networking have grown to a point where it provides the perfect access mechanism. It is a global network, accessible from anywhere as Internet connectivity is now virtually ubiquitous. The bandwidth of the Internet is also not an issue - it is only a question of how much you are willing to pay for your connectivity.

Nevertheless, for users in particular, a modestly priced Internet connection provides all the bandwidth they need to access the cloud services they require.

So far so good!

Cloud service providers are extremely conscious of the fact that availability and security are key requirements and generally ensure that there are redundant servers, failover mechanisms and other solutions to ensure high availability. They also provide trusted security mechanisms to ensure that only the right people get access to sensitive data.

Still on track then!

That leaves the connectivity providers and the Internet itself. This is where more effort is needed.

Cloud compromised
IP networks and the Internet were designed for efficient transfer of data. The idea is that instead of establishing permanent connections like telephone call connections, where data will follow a pre-determined route every time, the data is routed through on a packet by packet basis on the best route available at the time, as determined by the network itself. There are a number of routes to the same destination, so even if one doesn't work, others will. What you can't guarantee is when data packets will get to the destination or in what order they will get there. If packets don't arrive as expected, then they are simply resent.

This works beautifully for data like web browsing, emails or file transfers, as it doesn't really matter when the data arrives as long as it gets there eventually.

But now, IP networks and the Internet are being used for all sorts of services like Voice-over-IP, Video-over-IP, Storage networks etc. For many of these services, time is critical and a guaranteed bandwidth is required. Many of these services are also sharing the same connections as normal data services, so there also has to be mechanisms to ensure that they are prioritized in relation to data services like those mentioned earlier.

The issue with this for cloud computing is that there is no mechanism for ensuring that a cloud service transported over the Internet will be given priority. In fact, it won't!

Cloud computing is in its nascent stages, but as the popularity of this approach grows, more and more people will access applications and services remotely leading to increased Internet traffic and congestion points as multitudes of users converge on a few critical cloud service provider points.

Up to now, this has not been an issue since there has been a healthy investment in networking capacity and congestion has been solved by "throwing bandwidth at the problem". But in these fiscally challenging times, this is no longer an option. Making more efficient use of the existing infrastructure is the order of the day.

Cloud certainty
To have confidence that cloud services are available at all times, it is not enough to wait for issues to occur and rely on fallback solutions. The utilization and performance of critical links must be monitored proactively to assure cloud service availability.

This requires dedicated network performance monitoring appliances at all points in the delivery chain. These appliances are stand-alone hardware and software systems that are capable of capturing and analyzing all the data traffic on a link in real-time, at speeds up to 10 Gbps. Each data packet is analyzed to understand where it has come from, where it is going and the application that produced it.

With this information in hand, it is possible to see the utilization of critical links, as well as the applications and users that are hogging the bandwidth.

For cloud service providers, these network appliances can be used to monitor their communication with the outside world, but it also allows them to demand visibility into their connectivity providers' network to understand how their traffic is being transported.

The connectivity provider can use these solutions to support the Service Level Agreements (SLAs) they have with cloud service providers and ensure that there is available bandwidth. They can equally demand the same level of SLA from their other connectivity providers in the Internet domain. Thus the chain continues.

Such network performance tools are available today and being deployed in many enterprise, data center and communication networks. However, they need to be regarded as an essential part of the cloud service delivery infrastructure.

Cloud confidence
Availability is important for cloud services, but so is security. Cloud service providers provide a number of mechanisms to ensure that only the right persons gain access to critical data.

However, this is not the only threat. Malware, denial of service attacks and other malicious activity are becoming more prevalent. This requires dedicated network security solutions, such as firewalls and intrusion prevention systems that can provide a fence around critical access points. These are primarily at the enterprise and data center where the users and cloud service providers reside, but can also be in the connectivity provider's network securing critical links.

Again, these network security solutions are stand-alone hardware and software systems that are capable of analyzing high-speed data in real-time, taking action and then sending clean data traffic on its way. The process is completely transparent to the user and cloud service provider.

Using these systems ensures that the doors are firmly closed to would-be intruders and should be mandatory at all critical access points in the cloud service delivery chain.

Cloud clarity
Many pieces of the cloud service delivery chain are in place. What remains are the key components to assure service performance, availability and network security.

Network appliance solutions exist to address these areas and they now have the performance to keep up with even the highest speed networks thanks to advanced network adapters capable of handling data traffic at up to 10 Gbps in real-time without losing packets. What remain is to make these network appliances a mandatory component in the cloud service delivery infrastructure underpinning clear SLAs that can assure performance and security across the delivery chain.

So don't let the cloud rain on your parade! Ensure that all the pieces are in place and enjoy the benefits that the cloud can provide and the new opportunities it will enable.

More Stories By Daniel Joseph Barry

Daniel Joseph Barry is VP Positioning and Chief Evangelist at Napatech and has over 20 years experience in the IT and Telecom industry. Prior to joining Napatech in 2009, he was Marketing Director at TPACK, a leading supplier of transport chip solutions to the Telecom sector.

From 2001 to 2005, he was Director of Sales and Business Development at optical component vendor NKT Integration (now Ignis Photonyx) following various positions in product development, business development and product management at Ericsson. He joined Ericsson in 1995 from a position in the R&D department of Jutland Telecom (now TDC). He has an MBA and a BSc degree in Electronic Engineering from Trinity College Dublin.

Comments (1) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

Most Recent Comments
Erik Sebesta 12/07/09 11:22:00 AM EST

You've summarized nicely why we went into business to become the leading cloud computing transition services company. :-)

Cloud Computing Services

Hopefully some of our analysis the on cloud computing leaders is helpful to you.

Cloud computing leaders



@ThingsExpo Stories
"There's plenty of bandwidth out there but it's never in the right place. So what Cedexis does is uses data to work out the best pathways to get data from the origin to the person who wants to get it," explained Simon Jones, Evangelist and Head of Marketing at Cedexis, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Digital Transformation and Disruption, Amazon Style - What You Can Learn. Chris Kocher is a co-founder of Grey Heron, a management and strategic marketing consulting firm. He has 25+ years in both strategic and hands-on operating experience helping executives and investors build revenues and shareholder value. He has consulted with over 130 companies on innovating with new business models, product strategies and monetization. Chris has held management positions at HP and Symantec in addition to ...
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities - ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups.
In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect at GE, and Ibrahim Gokcen, who leads GE's advanced IoT analytics, focused on the Internet of Things / Industrial Internet and how to make it operational for business end-users. Learn about the challenges posed by machine and sensor data and how to marry it with enterprise data. They also discussed the tips and tricks to provide the Industrial Internet as an end-user consumable service using Big Data Analytics and Industrial C...
René Bostic is the Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America. Enjoying her career with IBM during the modern millennial technological era, she is an expert in cloud computing, DevOps and emerging cloud technologies such as Blockchain. Her strengths and core competencies include a proven record of accomplishments in consensus building at all levels to assess, plan, and implement enterprise and cloud computing solutions. René is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and a m...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things'). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing. IoT is not about the devices, its about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. This paper discusses the considerations when dealing with the...
DXWordEXPO New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DXWorldEXPO within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term.
To Really Work for Enterprises, MultiCloud Adoption Requires Far Better and Inclusive Cloud Monitoring and Cost Management … But How? Overwhelmingly, even as enterprises have adopted cloud computing and are expanding to multi-cloud computing, IT leaders remain concerned about how to monitor, manage and control costs across hybrid and multi-cloud deployments. It’s clear that traditional IT monitoring and management approaches, designed after all for on-premises data centers, are falling short in ...
With privacy often voiced as the primary concern when using cloud based services, SyncriBox was designed to ensure that the software remains completely under the customer's control. Having both the source and destination files remain under the user?s control, there are no privacy or security issues. Since files are synchronized using Syncrify Server, no third party ever sees these files.
Cloud-enabled transformation has evolved from cost saving measure to business innovation strategy -- one that combines the cloud with cognitive capabilities to drive market disruption. Learn how you can achieve the insight and agility you need to gain a competitive advantage. Industry-acclaimed CTO and cloud expert, Shankar Kalyana presents. Only the most exceptional IBMers are appointed with the rare distinction of IBM Fellow, the highest technical honor in the company. Shankar has also receive...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
Internet-of-Things discussions can end up either going down the consumer gadget rabbit hole or focused on the sort of data logging that industrial manufacturers have been doing forever. However, in fact, companies today are already using IoT data both to optimize their operational technology and to improve the experience of customer interactions in novel ways. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Gordon Haff, Red Hat Technology Evangelist, shared examples from a wide range of industries – including en...
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Rodrigo Coutinho is part of OutSystems' founders' team and currently the Head of Product Design. He provides a cross-functional role where he supports Product Management in defining the positioning and direction of the Agile Platform, while at the same time promoting model-based development and new techniques to deliver applications in the cloud.
DevOpsSummit New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DXWorldEXPO within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of bus...
delaPlex is a global technology and software development solutions and consulting provider, deeply committed to helping companies drive growth, revenue and marketplace value. Since 2008, delaPlex's objective has been to be a trusted advisor to its clients. By redefining the outsourcing industry's business model, the innovative delaPlex Agile Business Framework brings an unmatched alliance of industry experts, across industries and functional skillsets, to clients anywhere around the world.
Business professionals no longer wonder if they'll migrate to the cloud; it's now a matter of when. The cloud environment has proved to be a major force in transitioning to an agile business model that enables quick decisions and fast implementation that solidify customer relationships. And when the cloud is combined with the power of cognitive computing, it drives innovation and transformation that achieves astounding competitive advantage.
Headquartered in Plainsboro, NJ, Synametrics Technologies has provided IT professionals and computer systems developers since 1997. Based on the success of their initial product offerings (WinSQL and DeltaCopy), the company continues to create and hone innovative products that help its customers get more from their computer applications, databases and infrastructure. To date, over one million users around the world have chosen Synametrics solutions to help power their accelerated business or per...