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John Keller

Director, Product Management of Comcast Business

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Three Critical Truths to Embrace When Connecting to the Cloud

January 06, 2016

Concerns regarding security, reliability, performance and control are still prevalent, yet, migration to the cloud continues.

Business applications continue moving to the cloud at an escalating pace, with more employees accessing them via the Internet and with mobile devices. Concerns regarding security, reliability, performance and control are still prevalent, yet, migration to the cloud continues. As it does, enterprise IT departments must evaluate their network infrastructure and the services that connect their company locations to data centers and ultimately to the cloud. These are some of the conclusions drawn from a UBM Tech survey of IT leaders on their businesses and the cloud.

In a recent Webinar, "Connecting to the Cloud: Three Things to Ignore at Your Peril," InformationWeek contributing editor and columnist Lenny Liebmann shared the findings of a UBM Tech survey of 336 IT decision makers and senior executives. “The Cloud Effect on Data Center Networking” survey validated five major challenges preventing companies from using off-site, third-party, hosted applications: security, loss of control, need for a trustworthy service provider, regulatory compliance and performance. Liebmann then offered three critical assertions and actions every company should take to ensure that their networks’ external connections meet both current and future needs of their businesses.

Before revealing his recommendations, Liebmann noted three primary imperatives that are relevant for any organization today – imperatives that are helping drive enterprises to the cloud:

  1. The power of the customer. Businesses today are operating in a high-choice marketplace where customers can quickly take their business elsewhere.
  2. Extremely dynamic markets, with an accelerating pace of change in a high-churn, highly disruptive economy.
  3. The millennial workforce, which brings a different culture, unprecedented technology savvy and expectations of what they need in the work place to be productive.

Liebmann described how the cloud helps engage the customer, by providing businesses with the right analytics and capabilities. It facilitates accommodating the rapid pace of change, because cloud users are no longer limited by the capabilities of their own data centers. The cloud helps provide the millennial workforce with resources that might not be readily available within an organization.

When examining connectivity requirements, Liebmann emphasized the need to consider the network’s historical evolution: Over the past 25 years, the typical network has evolved from a connection between a mainframe and terminals, to today’s absolutely critical link from an organization to the outside world—to the cloud and as-a-service applications, mobile employees, customers, partners and more. This single physical connection to the cloud is under constantly increasing pressure.

Focusing on this outward-facing connection, Liebmann noted three critical assertions that every cloud-bound company should consider and act to address.

  1. The cloud makes it more important to safeguard your access to the external network. As more resources move to the cloud, resources that are essential to productivity and delivering a good customer experience, the quality of how one accesses them becomes more critical than ever.

    To safeguard that access, Liebmann recommends:

    • Ensuring that your facilities have the right power and cooling.
    • Applying redundancy and failover provisions.
    • Implementing monitoring and quality of service (QoS) safeguards.
    • Putting distributed denial of service (DDoS) controls in place.
    • Adding managed services, especially to cover for round-the-clock coverage.
  2. The cloud makes it more important to adaptively increase technical performance to meet ever-evolving business needs. The right connection is critically important and extremely dynamic as IT departments and lines of business regularly add or change applications and services that affect network traffic and performance.

    Whether your business is using the Internet or private connections, it is vital that the network delivers the performance your business needs; that your provider is consistently reliable, with the capability to accommodate peak usage.

  3. The cloud makes it more important to work with a network provider that is responsive and offers more than you need today.

    He suggests that IT decision makers strengthen engagements with their networking providers, by requesting and thoroughly evaluating information regarding their:

    • Capabilities, including management and monitoring; options offered for connecting; diagnostics and more
    • Responsiveness and adaptability, which are critical as consumption becomes more dynamic and needs change
    • Pricing structure and flexibility to adjust to changing business needs, such as adding or subtracting capacity, services and locations
    • Culture, because every successful business partnership includes a culture that understands and accommodates each company’s processes and can comfortably work together when service and support are needed.

Clearly, moving to the cloud makes the network connection more critical and dynamic than ever. Liebmann advised companies making the move to be creative, diligent and active in their networking choices.

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