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Direct Network Access Makes Cloud Work Better
When you move to the cloud, WAN performance can determine your cloud success

By: John Shepler

In the mad dash to the cloud, some companies are left wondering if they were better off before the upset the IT apple cart. Everything was running smoothly and business was humming along. It was the lure of cost savings or avoiding huge capital investment that made cloud hosted services look so good. Wasn’t performance supposed to improve, not decline, when you move to the cloud? Why on Earth didn’t it work out that way?

Did I Buy The Wrong Cloud Services?
Chances are that there is nothing wrong with your cloud services. They do exactly as advertised for other companies. Costs go down, performance goes up and you can’t run out of resources. You don’t have the wrong cloud, you have the wrong connection.

How can that be? It’s the same Internet connection we’ve refined over the years. Response is snappy, files transfer smoothly and it almost never goes down. We’ll at least all those things were true BEFORE we made the move.

The Internet's Dirty Little Secret
The Internet is a marvelous service. I wouldn’t be without it no matter where I am. In fact, I can’t do business without the Internet and youprobably can’t either. What you need to know is that the Internet is good for some things and not so good for others.

What’s it good at? Connecting you to the endless sea of consumers in their homes and out & about. You’ll need a good broadband connection to enable your traveling and home workers. Email is ubiquitous. Certainly you must have that today, right?

Indeed you must. Those needs can only be met by great Internet service. It’s everything else that doesn’t belong on the Internet that’s getting you in trouble.

What would that be? Basically, anything that is real time or response sensitive. File transfers aren’t all that time critical, a few seconds or even a few minutes delay probably won’t matter as long as there are no errors in the transfer. Email? You wouldn’t notice anything but major delays. You might even appreciate less dinging from the mailbox. How about VoIP telephone, video conferencing or software as a service? Bingo! These are the applications that can be ruined by poor network performance.

How The Internet Really Works
The Internet was designed to be really, really good at making sure that files get from point A to point B without corruption. That doesn’t mean that packets don’t get mangled. There is a built-in mechanism (TCP/IP) that sends another copy of any packet that doesn’t arrive intact. It doesn’t matter how congested the Internet gets or how crummy the line noise is. Your files will get where they are intended to go in perfect shape… eventually.

That’s the problem. We are used to local networks that have all the capacity required and set up so that real time processes get priority. Being relatively small and internal to the company, there’s isn’t much of a problem with noisy lines destroying bits in a packet. As far as you are concerned, the network is transparent from your workstation to the IT data center. Wouldn’t it be nice if that were still so once you move to the cloud?

So, What's the Alternative?
What you need to do is get off the Internet “superhighway,” as it is euphemistically called, and get a direct network connection to your cloud services. This direct connection runs via a private network engineered for high performance. This can be in the form of private lines, be they SONET fiber optic or Ethernet Private Lines. You may even need to engage wavelength services if your requirements are massive.

Another approach is to connect at both ends to a MPLS IPVN network. MPLS networks are a shared resource among multiple users but with traffic management unknown on the Internet. This gives you the performance of having your own private line, but at a lower cost.

What Can You Expect From Direct Connections?
Similar responsiveness to what you have with a local data center, even though the cloud data center is somewhere on the other side of the country. This means that employees don’t have to pause what they are doing to wait for the connection to catch up. VoIP phone calls through hosted PBX services maintain their voice quality and even support HD voice for greater clarity. Video conferences maintain their HD quality and lose the jerkiness. Even backup and recovery processes run faster and more smoothly.

You don’t have to give up performance to gain the cost savings and scalability of cloud computing services. What you need is a WAN (Wide Area Network) connection that supports the performance capability of the cloud.

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