Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Gil Allouche, Pat O'Day

Related Topics: Cloud Expo, Java, SOA & WOA, Virtualization, Big Data Journal, SDN Journal

Cloud Expo: Article

Rethinking Enterprise Networks: Transformative Approach to Fuel the Cloud

Companies are transforming their Wide Area Networks to more quickly and efficiently fuel their move to the cloud

It's clear that cloud computing has transformed the enterprise IT landscape, from the computing infrastructure layer up through enterprise software, as companies move to leverage more efficient and cost-effective service-delivery models and bring new cloud-based products and services to the market. Perhaps less known is the innovation taking place at the network level and how leading companies are transforming their Wide Area Networks (WAN) to more quickly and efficiently fuel their move to the cloud.

Moving to the cloud requires network managers and IT shops to implement scalable solutions that ensure the reliability and performance of cloud-based applications across their extended enterprise. Cloud computing drives the need for more reliability across the WAN and ever-increasing amounts of highly available, secure and reliable bandwidth across all users, locations and geographies. However, many enterprises are constrained by their existing network infrastructure, both from a cost and performance perspective. They can't cost-effectively scale their networks; and latency, jitter and packet loss impact performance and reliability in the cloud.

Transforming to a next-generation WAN architecture plays a critical role in enabling enterprises to more easily and cost-effectively migrate to and better support public, private and hybrid cloud environments.

According to Forrester, ‘enterprise use of the cloud has arrived,' with nearly half of all companies in North America and Europe setting aside budget for private cloud investments in 2013. Legitimate budgeting to integrate cloud services into existing platforms and deploy software apps to the cloud confirm that IT shops are ‘no longer denying it's happening in their company.' Increasingly, enterprises are moving beyond their own data centers to leverage infrastructure and applications, choosing to host their own applications externally or leverage services from third-party providers.

Cloud infrastructure providers, such as Amazon and Rackspace, are well established in the enterprise IaaS market delivering compute, storage and hosting services to businesses of all sizes from SME to large multi-national corporations. Since its launch in 2006, Amazon Web Services' (AWS) S3 offering has grown to encompass more than two trillion objects stored and company revenues have grown past $2 billion.[1] AWS clearly dominates the cloud platform space holding as much as 70 percent of the market, with its enterprise clients spending anywhere from $12,000 to $2.5 million per year on its infrastructure services. The push of traditional companies such as Microsoft, IBM and HP, as well as and a host of other players, into this space further validates the arrival of cloud in the enterprise market.

On the software side, service providers like Salesforce.com have been offering cloud-based enterprise software for years, enabling companies to optimize their costs under a pay-per-use model, while simplifying the delivery of reliable apps that scale more easily. According to the Aberdeen Group[2], SaaS is becoming an increasingly important deployment model for enterprise applications, with highest adoption among CRM and ERP solutions. Nearly 80 percent of all companies are currently using at least two or more SaaS applications and many have reported decreased spending on application deployment resulting from SaaS usage.

Enterprises will continue to use a range of cloud solutions, developed internally and sourced from external providers, to more efficiently and effectively distribute mission-critical applications on a global scale. Most will need to move beyond their traditional legacy networks to ensure higher levels of performance, reliability and scalability of these applications across the WAN.

Traditional WAN Design and Optimization Approaches: Falling Short in the Cloud
Cloud is causing an explosion in enterprise bandwidth and making traditional WAN management obsolete. Bandwidth demands will continue to grow and the enterprise WAN will continue to need more bandwidth. While the actual services delivered are the main attraction in the cloud, enterprises are finding that traditional Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) networks and WAN acceleration technologies can't keep up.

Migrating to the cloud has put new pressures on WAN connectivity, from both a cost and performance perspective. Existing networks and optimization solutions cannot provide the capacity, reliability and scalability required across all users, locations and geographies. Work environments and application needs have changed, and will continue to change dramatically. In many cases, network design has become a limiting factor with reliance on traditional architectures that have not been optimized to support how applications are being hosted and accessed in public, private and hybrid cloud environments, or how and where people work.

Traditional WAN architecture is based on a hub-and-spoke model with data distributed from headquarters to branch locations and across centers (DC2DC) connected via public and private networks. At the branch or edge locations, sites are connected via low bandwidth MPLS links often over T1 to DS3 access links from the local telco. Connectivity across larger more bandwidth-intensive sites, such as corporate HQs and data centers, use expensive MPLS WAN links configured in a higher bandwidth core, typically in the range of 100Mbs.

The majority of enterprise WAN links are high cost, site-to-site private MPLS lines sourced from incumbent telcos like Verizon and AT&T. As enterprise bandwidth demands increase, the high cost of MPLS-based WAN connectivity and the complexity of underlying networks impact the enterprise's ability to cost-effectively scale their networks with the growth in demand.

Not only is the enterprise use of global MPLS for "backbone" traffic becoming less cost competitive as scale increases, but it is increasingly challenging to control costs associated with real-time applications, distributed cloud services and rich media. Traditional network topologies can also limit an enterprise's ability to fully leverage infrastructure and server virtualization as a means to more effectively distribute enterprise applications across all locations and users, and application performance suffers over long distance network paths. Furthermore, as enterprises seek to leverage solutions sourced from external providers, using MPLS as the connectivity method to SaaS and other public cloud locations is not agile enough and doesn't scale effectively given the high cost per bit.

MPLS is not the only factor driving the need for enterprises to rethink their networks. The public Internet is becoming an increasingly important distribution medium to reach customers and stakeholders, but managing performance is becoming critical.

While the Internet provides ease of access across a broad base of users, it often lacks the performance and reliability required to support mission-critical, cloud-based enterprise solutions. Packet loss and jitter are more common across the Internet than MPLS; and network congestion and latency vary across locations and geographies as no single provider can guarantee end-to-end performance. Nevertheless, accessing services via the Internet is a reality, and it is increasingly important for enterprises to architect network solutions that best optimize "public" access to cloud-based apps and services.

Another approach enterprises have used to optimize the performance of business-critical applications over the enterprise network has been through WAN optimization. Traditional WAN optimization techniques use appliances and hardware installed at corporate and remote locations to improve end-to-end application performance by increasing data-transfer efficiencies across wide-area-networks. These technologies are often application or protocol-specific and seek to optimize how individual applications work over the WAN instead of making the WAN work better for all applications.

While these appliances have helped deliver better application performance, this approach tends to be more tactical in nature, rationing a limited supply of bandwidth instead of addressing the organization's more strategic need to add more bandwidth or capacity to support ever-increasing demands. As more applications and services are deployed to the cloud, and more bandwidth-intensive applications and real-time data are delivered across the extended enterprise, the enterprise's demand for bandwidth will continue to increase.

Furthermore, while traditional WAN optimization solutions are dual-sided with one box at a data center and another at a branch office, this approach to optimize cloud applications can only be implemented with a single-sided solution since an appliance cannot be placed in front of an application residing in the cloud. As such, traditional solutions can fall short in the cloud, and are better suited for improving the performance of non-real-time applications, such as email, network backup and remote file access.

Rethinking Enterprise Networks: Next-Generation WAN Architecture
Enterprises that wish to leverage private, public or hybrid cloud solutions to distribute data and applications across a country or around the globe need to rethink their WAN architecture to achieve the required scale within existing budgets. Bandwidth economies of scale between highly connected network aggregation points offer exponential improvements in bandwidth availability at a fraction of the cost, but most enterprises are unaware of how to tap into these aggregation points or even that they exist.

The first step is connecting existing enterprise data centers and the WAN directly into carrier-neutral data centers that are "highly connected" and provide direct access to wide array of high capacity, high bandwidth connectivity options, as well as a growing base of cloud infrastructure and application providers.

These carrier-neutral data centers, operated by providers such as Equinix and Telx, are well known for outsourced IT services, including data center colocation, managed hosting of external-facing websites and applications, proximity to public cloud services, and as secondary sites for disaster recovery and business continuity. However, many enterprises are less familiar with these facilities as a key enabler of a high performance, next-generation WAN architecture.

Integrating these facilities as "super nodes" in the WAN provides enterprises a long-term approach to increase control over performance, reliability and scalability for the cloud while providing a means to significantly drive down bandwidth costs.

Carrier-neutral facilities are centrally located and provide enterprises broad access to competitive carrier markets with a near limitless supply of diverse, inexpensive bandwidth from Tier-1 and Tier-2 network carriers. By leveraging these facilities, enterprises are no longer constrained by the incumbent telcos and their legacy networks and have direct access to fiber and bandwidth from competitive providers at prices much lower than MPLS along with a wider array of MPLS and similar services.

Re-architecting existing networks to a next-generation WAN architecture provides a means to more cost-effectively scale the WAN to grow with the enterprise's demands than traditional MPLS-dense, hub-and-spoke networks. Additionally, bandwidth can easily be added at lower cost, secure hosting or rack space for new hardware or software can be deployed, and latency performance can be improved by connecting additional proximity locations.

Beyond the cost and scalability benefits of network transformation, by building out a higher performance core network integrating super nodes and direct fiber connectivity, enterprises can substantially improve performance and reliability of virtualized, networked and cloud-based solutions, both for intranet applications as well as SaaS and cloud-based services.

Carrier-neutral, data centers often serve as network access points or public peering locations, close to the core of the Internet and public cloud services. Moving closer to the Internet core enables more reliable access to third party SaaS, IaaS and other cloud-based services, even delivering close to "on-net" reliability of cloud services located at the same colocation facility. Furthermore, these facilities are often close, in terms of latency, to a large number of users and businesses connecting to the Internet, enabling more reliable access and service delivery to a broader base of users.

This architectural approach can provide better performance and help to address several of the key WAN factors affecting application performance while delivering enhanced end-to-end network performance, speed and reliability. A next-generation WAN architecture sets the foundation to enable enterprises to better leverage the power of virtualization and gain the efficiencies of the cloud to more effectively distribute enterprise applications and services. A higher performance core network connecting corporate data centers and third-party facilities with more robust WAN connectivity allows enterprises to take advantage of bandwidth costs and application performance benefits today, while providing the ability to cost-effectively scale to meet future demands.

This next-generation WAN architecture is the exact approach that today's leading companies are using to transform their global WAN architectures around highly connected aggregation points or "super nodes". Moving from legacy MPLS networks, these companies are building out their own high capacity, highly connected core backbones, and pushing MPLS to the edge. Once connected to the right network aggregation points, bandwidth costs begin to fall rapidly while bandwidth increases and access to cloud-based infrastructure and applications is streamlined and simplified.

CFN Services works with leading companies to map their legacy WAN to this new cloud world order. To learn more about CFN's network transformation solutions and how next-generation WAN architecture can improve business performance, please visit www.cfnservices.com

Gain additional insights on how leading organizations are utilizing smarter networking strategies to improve network and application performance in the Aberdeen Group's "Building a Smarter Networking Strategy for the Modern Large Enterprise" white paper.

References:

  1. Cloudyn, AWS Client Research
  2. The Growing Importance of SaaS as an Application Deployment Model, Aberdeen Group, March 1, 2013

More Stories By Mark Casey

Mark Casey is President and CEO of CFN Services, a leading provider of high-performance network and application delivery solutions for real-time, mission-critical and distributed computing environments. Leveraging FiberSource®, CFN’s comprehensive network-optimization knowledge base and its proprietary Net Transform™ methodologies, the company analyzes, architects and implements network and cloud solutions.

Comments (0)

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.


@CloudExpo Stories
As enterprises engage with Big Data technologies to develop applications needed to meet operational demands, new computation fabrics are continually being introduced. To leverage these new innovations, organizations are sacrificing market opportunities to gain expertise in learning new systems. In his session at Big Data Expo, Supreet Oberoi, Vice President of Field Engineering at Concurrent, Inc., discussed how to leverage existing infrastructure and investments and future-proof them against e...
“DevOps is really about the business. The business is under pressure today, competitively in the marketplace to respond to the expectations of the customer. The business is driving IT and the problem is that IT isn't responding fast enough," explained Mark Levy, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Serena Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The Internet of Things is a misnomer. That implies that everything is on the Internet, and that simply should not be - especially for things that are blurring the line between medical devices that stimulate like a pacemaker and quantified self-sensors like a pedometer or pulse tracker. The mesh of things that we manage must be segmented into zones of trust for sensing data, transmitting data, receiving command and control administrative changes, and peer-to-peer mesh messaging. In his session a...
“The year of the cloud – we have no idea when it's really happening but we think it's happening now. For those technology providers like Zentera that are helping enterprises move to the cloud - it's been fun to watch," noted Mike Loftus, VP Product Management and Marketing at Zentera Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"For over 25 years we have been working with a lot of enterprise customers and we have seen how companies create applications. And now that we have moved to cloud computing, mobile, social and the Internet of Things, we see that the market needs a new way of creating applications," stated Jesse Shiah, CEO, President and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"At our booth we are showing how to provide trust in the Internet of Things. Trust is where everything starts to become secure and trustworthy. Now with the scaling of the Internet of Things it becomes an interesting question – I've heard numbers from 200 billion devices next year up to a trillion in the next 10 to 15 years," explained Johannes Lintzen, Vice President of Sales at Utimaco, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in San...
"Desktop as a Service is emerging as a very big trend. One of the big influencers of this – for Esri – is that we have a large user base that uses virtualization and they are looking at Desktop as a Service right now," explained John Meza, Product Engineer at Esri, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Mobile commerce traffic is surpassing desktop, yet less than 20% of sales in the U.S. are mobile commerce sales. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Dan Franklin, Segment Manager, Commerce, at Verizon Digital Media Services, defined mobile devices and discussed how next generation means simplification. It means taking your digital content and turning it into instantly gratifying experiences.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built to optimize Microsoft workloads, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Gridstore™ is the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built for Microsoft workloads and designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Gridstore’s hyper-converged infrastructure is the ...
"People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Ulunsoft is a start-up that focuses on how enterprises build cloud-based IT infrastructure for business," explained Haibo Zhu, President of Ulunsoft Corp, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Application monitoring and intelligence can smooth the path in a DevOps environment. In a DevOps environment you see constant change. If you are trying to monitor things in a constantly changing environment, you're going to spend a lot of your job fixing your monitoring," explained Todd Rader, Solutions Architect at AppDynamics, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Today’s enterprise is being driven by disruptive competitive and human capital requirements to provide enterprise application access through not only desktops, but also mobile devices. To retrofit existing programs across all these devices using traditional programming methods is very costly and time consuming – often prohibitively so. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO, President, and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., discussed how you can create applications that run on all mobile ...
"SOASTA built the concept of cloud testing in 2008. It's grown from rather meager beginnings to where now we are provisioning hundreds of thousands of servers on a daily basis on behalf of customers around the world to test their applications," explained Tom Lounibos, CEO of SOASTA, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
“We are a managed services company. We have taken the key aspects of the cloud and the purposed data center and merged the two together and launched the Purposed Cloud about 18–24 months ago," explained Chetan Patwardhan, CEO of Stratogent, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
We certainly live in interesting technological times. And no more interesting than the current competing IoT standards for connectivity. Various standards bodies, approaches, and ecosystems are vying for mindshare and positioning for a competitive edge. It is clear that when the dust settles, we will have new protocols, evolved protocols, that will change the way we interact with devices and infrastructure. We will also have evolved web protocols, like HTTP/2, that will be changing the very core...
"Verizon Digital Media Services is responsible for the broadcast, video and content delivery network that accelerates, scales and helps our customers reach end users with all kinds of video and web content," stated James Segil, CMO of Verizon Digital Media Services, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Creative Business Solutions will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Creative Business Solutions is the top stocking authorized HP Renew Distributor in the U.S. Based out of Long Island, NY, Creative Business Solutions offers a one-stop shop for a diverse range of products including Proliant, Blade and Industry Standard Servers, Networking, Server Options and...
You use an agile process; your goal is to make your organization more agile. But what about your data infrastructure? The truth is, today's databases are anything but agile - they are effectively static repositories that are cumbersome to work with, difficult to change, and cannot keep pace with application demands. Performance suffers as a result, and it takes far longer than it should to deliver new features and capabilities needed to make your organization competitive. As your application an...
“We are strong believers in the DevOps movement and our staff has been doing DevOps for large enterprise environments for a number of years. The solution that we build is intended to allow DevOps teams to do security at the speed of DevOps," explained Justin Lundy, Founder & CTO of Evident.io, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.