There’s a school of thought out there that cloud transport can and should be just a commodity. A dumb pipe that gets you to your data or app destination. Then, inside that destination, all the intelligence resides in the software, along with the security and reliability.
There are times that may be just fine. Like if you’re checking your personal e-mail or social site, or playing a game on your mobile device, or running one of those apps where you find out if your friends have checked in at the nearby bar.
But when it’s important, enterprise-critical work you’re doing, transport matters. I like to think of this in terms of an expressway. Picture the expressway at rush hour, and then think whether you’d like to drive.
1. On the road that has lane-marking lines, marked exits, distance information, signboards for lane closures, and yes, even the occasional police car. This is the dependable cloud.
2. Or on the road with none of these. This is the commodity cloud.
If you’re an 18-year-old pickup truck driver with no sense of your own mortality, you might choose 2. The rest of us would most likely pick 1.
Gartner had some interesting thoughts on this commodity-vs.-dependability issue recently. They pointed to four types of applications that will move into the infrastructure-as-a-service cloud, two of which will rely on intelligent, resilient, and reliable transport, and two which won’t.
The existing and new enterprise-class applications, unsurprisingly, call for a strong transport component. But the “Internet-class” and “Global-class” applications don’t, in Gartner’s view. For them, reliability will be built into the application, with the assumption that the transport medium isn’t perfect, and some degree of failure is tolerable.
The differentiation in approach between enterprises and other applications squares with what we’ve written about previously regarding enterprises’ clear preference for traditional carriers or hosted VARs to provide their cloud access.
As Gartner noted, enterprises “expect resilience at the infrastructure layer” and for them a dependable infrastructure is, and will be, a given. To that, we would add scalability, service quality, superior performance, and all the peace of mind that enterprises have come to expect in their managed services. Clearly, this is the better road, at rush hour or anytime.