Make a solid plan for the technical impacts of cloud-based enterprise systems.
The cloud offers several strategic benefits, such as providing online access from anywhere, increasing infrastructure efficiency and allowing for very rapid changes. However, supporting cloud-based apps requires careful thought regarding optimizations to your IT infrastructure. Here are 4 questions you should answer in advance to ensure performance levels don’t take a nosedive:
#1 How will you manage the increase of data flowing through the network?
The first step in managing network activity is to perform a baseline analysis on the volume and type of ingress and egress traffic. Know your baseline so you can determine what changes will need to be made as traffic increases.
When implementing the cloud to your IT infrastructure, you want to maintain the quality of service by understanding the performance requirements and usage patterns. Establish a plan for monitoring the traffic activity during and immediately following implementation. Software tools such as SolarWinds, hardware like NetScout (formerly known as Network General Sniffer) or open source options like Nagios v4 and OpenNMS can be used to visually display and capture traffic usage.
Finally, you can prioritize the traffic through customizations based on many factors such as course and destination, time of day, and the particular service (e.g. VOIP) or making streaming video traffic the number one priority.
#2 How much bandwidth is needed?
With businesses turning to Google Apps and Microsoft 365 to facilitate collaborations, email, and streaming video, plus increasing levels of remote access, you need a good supply of bandwidth. Unfortunately, there is no magic equation to determine just how much you’ll need. Storage resources like Dropbox and Amazon S3 will result in traffic sourcing from your network leading to a heavy egress. Manage fluctuations in bandwidth by eliminating redundancy with WAN optimization appliances, compressing and caching network traffic, or, if budget allows, by purchasing additional bandwidth capacity.
#3 Can your budget support WAN saturation?
Budgeting for capital expenditure due to increased cloud usage is critical. While bandwidth pricing ($/mbps) is very low due to volume growth, your cost will very likely continue to rise as streamed content providers clog the internet with their wares. Intranet capacity for LANs was never really an issue as costs plummeted for technologies such as Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, GigEthernet and speeds to 100 Gbps for LAN traffic are commonplace.
However, cloud implementation means you need to plan for saturating your expensive WAN/Internet connectivity. For example, backing up your data is a heavy load, and if your budget doesn’t adequately support your growing needs, you may need to consider throttling user traffic in order to reserve capacity for backup traffic to the WAN/Internet.
#4 Will your network weather latency issues?
The Internet will always have latency issues. You control this by using services as geographically close to your PoP (Point of Presence) as you can. With wire-speed capability on the LAN, there are some services that should stay off the cloud if latency cannot be mitigated within the service. For instance, if you have a business dependent on a very low latency service, like a database, read/write transactions should stay on the LAN and the WAN can be used for disaster recovery.
Taking advantage of all the benefits the cloud can bring to an organization requires planning and budgeting. Capturing and analyzing your traffic activity both in advance and ongoing will allow you to maintain desired performance levels as more cloud-based apps are utilized.
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