Maybe it's time to finally retire the term "dumb pipes" to describe the public network. In our business, as you can imagine, we aren't particularly fond of it.
But in the cloud era, it's such an inaccurate description that it's like calling something that you like "groovy." Unless you're Austin Powers, that just won't fly.
Zeus Kerravala would be the first to agree. The ZK Research analyst has authored a white paper on the subject of the "cloud-intelligent network" and insists that the cloud has increased the importance of the network as a key strategic asset.
We've made a similar point before, (here, for instance) and it's always good to see a well-respected third-party reach the same conclusion. Kerravala starts the paper by outlining our argument that cloud computing is highly interdependent with increasing network value and tighter network integration. Kerravala lists several reasons why the network is no longer just the plumbing. Such as:
• It is the optimal delivery platform for cloud services. As he notes, in today's environment, a user can be in any location, using any number of devices. The only cost-effective approach is to put the application in the cloud, with the network as the delivery mechanism.
• It is pervasive. What with corporate networks, home networks, 4G, WiFi, public hotspots, etc., users can be connected just about anywhere and anytime.
• Applications evolution. Today, application, computing, andnetwork resources can reside almost anywhere. As he notes, many cloud computing services are delivered by mashing up components from multiple locations, with the network tying these resources together.
• Security and management. Barriers to broader use of cloud computing remains security and control (see Exhibit 2). Many IT managers are unclear as to how to secure and manage resources that they no longer own, and are not on-premises. Pushing control and security points to the network enables IT to meet the challenges of dealing with resources that they may not own and which are typically off-premises. As Kerravala puts it, "the network is the only IT asset that touches every other IT resource."
He goes on to talk about why and how the network should evolve to the "cloud-intelligent network (CIN)" that assures a secure, manageable, and optimized cloud experience. With it, he maintains, an enterprise will benefit from IT-driven business agility, low total cost of ownership (TCO), simplified management, and time-to-market advantages.
Calling the cloud "the most network-centric computing paradigm to date," Kerravala says the key to taking advantage of that is a "rock-solid network foundation" that allows enterprises to transition to the cloud as their business needs dictate.
And I close this entry with Kerravala’s exact words “Cloud computing is the most network centric computing model to date, and an organization’s ultimate success or failure with the cloud can be determined by its network strategy”. So, does your cloud strategy include a cloud intelligent network?