Setting up cloud network configurations to optimise performance

Companies should be aware that the networking impact of cloud computing can be severe, with staff accessing databases, applications and other material over the internet from a corporate network, or from any alternative remote location where they can get a good connection.

This report explains the effects that cloud computing can have on corporate networks and the external networks between those companies and their cloud providers, and how to avoid bottlenecks.

Whilst the cloud can be used to store company data and deliver applications without the overheads of dedicated in-house servers and other hardware, the third party hosting the data or applications is often not responsible for the network links from the customer to its facilities.

Boosting your cloud network

Companies therefore have to plan how they connect their corporate networks to third party cloud providers to ensure they have enough affordable and reliable bandwidth to serve their users' needs - unless of course their provider will do it for them.

They must consider cost, service level agreements, security, network back up/failover to the cloud provider and network management.

Moving applications into the cloud therefore clearly has an impact on network utilisation. But before buying more bandwidth organisations should do other things first.

Companies have to understand the traffic patterns associated with each app. Some apps can be "frugal" on the network, while others are "chatty" - in other words using lots of bandwidth to transport them.

Making decisions based on data analysis, not assumptions, is key.

Cloud network optimisation

WAN (wide area network) optimisation between the cloud facility and the corporate network is critical to cloud deployments, to improve both latency and bandwidth performance.

WAN optimisation systems are designed to minimise data "chatter" on the network, making it more efficient to transport traffic. Low data latency, or delay, is also as important as bandwidth.

Often it's not the amount of data you're transfering that matters, it's the amount of time you have to wait while apps load. You want low latency not high latency.

Reducing latency can be achieved through studying the network design to reduce bottlenecks and remove unnecessary switching or firewall kit that can slow things.

Agile cloud contracts

It's also important to build flexibility and agility into your cloud service provider contract.

Companies need to establish clear SLAs (service level agreements) with their cloud provider from the outset. It is necessary to establish who has overall control of fault resolution, and how quickly faults will be resolved if they occur.

It is important for organisations to treat offsite cloud infrastructures as they would any other IT service, and apply best practice learned from procuring on-premises equipment.

Companies can set thresholds for cloud service providers by using benchmarks based on service levels historically achieved by their internal IT organisation.

And service providers' claims about service levels should be validated against reports of problems from other end-users. Also, bear in mind that different departments for instance, may require different service levels, so the cost of top shelf service guarantees may not be appropriate for the whole organisation.

It's also important not to exclusively rely on the monitoring and reporting offered by each cloud service provider. Consider deploying an independent system to get an overall view.

Upgraded cloud management from HP

Steve Dietch, HP enterprise vice president for worldwide cloud operations, says, "Regardless of whether we're helping people build a cloud, or if a customer consumes cloud services from us, what we offer is built on one architecture."

HP recently updated its software for managing cloud deployments, including its flagship HP CloudSystem platform, a collection of technologies and services for running IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service) deployments in-house or through a managed service.

HP CloudSystem also allows customers to move their workloads from internal private HP CloudSystem deployments to a hosted environment in an HP public cloud or from other providers like Amazon.

HP's CloudSystem management software, called CloudSystem Matrix, can also now be purchased as stand-alone software. Previously it was only available to buy as part of a package that combined HP hardware and software.

Dietch says, "We're providing the software for those customers who choose to go to virtual environments first, who don't need physical management capabilities."

HP CloudSystem Matrix includes a self-service portal, as well as automatic provisioning and capacity-planning capabilities. It can run on any x86-based server.

In addition, HP's Cloud Service Automation software can also be unbundled from the main HP CloudSystem package, if required. HP's Cloud Service Automation software allows organisations to manage applications across both private and public cloud deployments.

And on top of all this, HP has also upgraded its HP Application Performance Management operations management software, which assists staff in their cloud management duties.

Cloud support at every stage

No matter where you are in the cloud adoption lifecycle, HP has the people, processes and proven track record to make a real difference, and help you take a direct route to the cloud.

Contact HP today and learn more about the solutions discussed in this paper and how HP can help make your journey to the cloud a smooth one. To learn more about HP Converged Cloud solutions, go to:

For more information on HP cloud services, visit http://www.hp.com/uk/cloudinaday