Getting your bearings on the basics of cloud networking

Cloud and networking are two complicated technologies that often leave IT admins asking tough questions. Here are a few common head scratchers.

As enterprises construct more complicated cloud computing environments, networking also becomes more complicated. The challenges of traditional networking only increase with private cloud, public cloud and hybrid cloud deployments. It's only natural that networking considerations for the cloud can have an IT admin's head spinning.

To get a handle on the obstacles IT admins can face, you must first understand the basics of cloud networking. Where are the pitfalls? How can you tackle network latency? The answers to these frequently asked questions can help IT pros grasp the changing networking issues in a modern IT infrastructure.

What is a cloud computing network, and how does it differ from traditional networking?

In the IT industry, a network is a group of points that connect via communication paths, and networking is the use of that network, whether is the design, construction or everyday use.

When you introduce cloud computing into your IT environment, you're not only adding another point in the network, but you're adding network complications as well. A cloud computing network has to enable the movement of resources across endpoints, but to truly capitalize on the benefits of cloud, you need access to those resources from anywhere. And in a complicated IT environment using multiple cloud providers, the network allows for resource movement across private clouds, public clouds and hybrid clouds, as well as from a cloud installment back to the on-premises data center.

Network latency could be a cloud killer.

What effects can networking have on a cloud environment? How can I manage these effects?

Network latency could be a cloud killer. Cloud offers enterprises the benefits of scalability and flexibility, but without enough network capacity, these benefits are negligible.

Some companies make the major mistake of not taking into account their networking resources when constructing a cloud presence. When shifting workloads off-premises to take advantage of cloud computing's benefits, you burden the network between the cloud and your data center. And when network capacity between the cloud and the LAN is overburdened, applications and services suffer from poor performance.

To mitigate performance issues, IT admins should plan ahead for their cloud project, making sure network demands are part of the conversation. Once you launch your cloud project or migrate virtual machines to the cloud, network management tools and proper monitoring can help you keep tabs on your networking usage.

What can cause network latency problems in a private cloud?

Avoiding bottlenecks and network latency should be at the forefront of a cloud admin's monitoring plan. To avoid performance issues, look at often-overlooked network latency factors that could hurt a private cloud.

While your Internet connection and usage patterns could be more easily monitored as part of your overall network monitoring strategy, provider-to-provider networking could be a larger hurdle to conquer. Using multiple cloud providers to reduce risk means companies are hoping for full-provider high availability, which could clog traffic and cause networking issues.

How does networking play into migrating an application to the cloud?

There are obstacles in any application migration project, and not to be overlooked are network configuration challenges. After you've moved VMs and migrated data, either from on-premises to the cloud or from one cloud provider to another, you have to reconfigure your network. IT admins can face issues with domain name services (DNS) and internal configurations, such as problems with load balancers and database clients, which need to configure to a new IP address.

With the rise of BYOD and the use of mobile devices in the enterprise, what network changes do I need to make to support these devices?

Modern enterprises have employees using iPads, Android devices, BlackBerrys and other consumer devices. But are modern enterprises prepared to support these devices? Although they remain outside the corporate network and access applications via the cloud, mobile devices can negatively affect network performance and create numerous security issues. In the bring your own device (BYOD) era, companies need to implement mobile device policies to protect network security and maintain bandwidth health.

Primarily, it's important to set up gateways to separate the corporate network from any consumer devices. Other security efforts should include the use of firewalls, anti-malware software, data-removal policies and the implementation of strong passwords. But this is only the bare minimum; network security issues are just beginning to be broached in the BYOD era.

Caitlin White is the Associate Site Editor for SearchCloudComputing.com. Contact her at cwhite@techtarget.com.     

This was first published in August 2012

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