Cloud technology is now a fact of life. Businesses of all sizes are adopting it and are moving onto a cloud for business footing. Both in-house private clouds and hosted cloud environments are becoming commonplace.
However, some environments, including shop-floor automated manufacturing were not suitable for cloud technology. However, current trends are towards accommodating Big Data, digital convergence, the Internet of Things (“IoT”) and the newer developments in networking such as the spine and leaf network architecture.
Here are five cloud technology advances that make it an improved proposition for a business to move to a cloud for business platform.
Spine and Leaf Network Architecture
In the traditional network structure the number of devices through which data passes between the end user and its ultimate network destination is variable, depending on source, destination and route taken. Service levels depend on network congestion and the route taken, and could lead to a complete loss of service.
A Leaf and Spine structure where each network access node is connected to every distribution node ensures that the journey from any point on the network to any other point passes through the same number of devices, improving the quality of service and automatically providing alternate routes should one be congested or unavailable.
Such an architecture makes network performance and management much easier, particularly to accommodate Big Data and IoT environments.
Businesses that were unable to consider a cloud environment because of their legacy network architecture can now plan a move to a more efficient cloud-based environment.
Internet of Things
The internet of things (IoT) journey is well underway. The vast number of transactions generated at the network edge by automated process equipment can place a strain on the most efficient networks. Failing to service these requests efficiently and accurately can sometimes be a business threatening, or even a life-threatening event. Applications such as self-driving vehicles are a good example.
Until very recently, cloud technologies have not been able to support this environment.
Simply put, enterprise networks need the bandwidth and flexibility to support this influx of machine connectivity. The latest technologies provide data aggregation, filtering and analysis at the network edge. Moving processing to the network edge means that the main network backbone processes only the aggregated data and is not overwhelmed by torrents of individual data items.
In some circles this is called “Fog Computing”, in effect lots of mini-clouds at the network edge.
Businesses previously unable to move to the cloud because of IoT considerations can now begin the migration.
Users of hosted cloud services are particularly worried about whether their hosts can adequately protect their data, both from theft and from malicious or accidental loss. Online businesses needing to provide 24/7/365 access to their applications and data are particularly concerned.
The battle between the hackers and cyber security is continually evolving, but improvements in software and appliances have made a successful attack less likely. A business is more likely to suffer loss because of an error by a member of staff than by a deliberate targeted attack.
The development of Data Loss Prevention protocols has focussed attention on the non-technical aspects of cyber security as part of a wider Business Continuity plan. Areas include user education, data backup, storage and retrieval policies for both digital and non-digital data.
Bring Your Own Device (“BYOD”) and the movement of existing manual processes to a digital platform is already with us. Multimedia is becoming the norm. The linkage of Voice over IP and Video Conferencing with Office applications is already in common use.
This implies a high-speed network capable of supporting an increase in both scale and complexity without sacrificing accessibility, responsiveness and quality of service.
The ability of networks to run at much higher backbone speeds is with us now, and the ability to run very high-speed networks is just around the corner.
Software Defined Access networks
A major issue with migrating large networks to a cloud base has been managing service levels, in effect cost-effective network configuration and management, particularly where the network carries many different classes of traffic. Some businesses are reluctant to migrate to the cloud because of cost concerns.
SDA is the first step on the way towards an Intent-Based network (IBN). An SDA is a self-configuring, self‑learning, self-healing network. An IBN is true automation, an SDA that learns, adapts and evolves by itself. IBN is only in the later stages of development, but many manufacturers are deploying SDA networks in business.
Give it a few years, and Intent Based networks will be with us.
Some businesses have been reluctant to move to a cloud platform because of migration, performance or security concerns. Recent hardware and software developments, coupled with a growing body of experience with cloud platforms have gone a long way to alleviating those concerns.