Cloud computing – you’re only as good as your network
Your cloud services can have the best data centre in the world, but it’s your network that really delivers performance to your customers, says Marcus Hill, Head of Systems Integration at Virgin Media Business
“Fundamentally it’s your network’s performance that delivers on the promise of cloud.”
The trouble with cloud is that it’s so... cloudy. One man’s cloud is another man’s network computing, while there are some who still swear blind that it’s all hype cooked up to lock customers into proprietary systems.
I’d say that anything that wants to be called cloud computing has to have two basic properties, one commercial and one technological.
- The commercial model. Cloud gives you the ability to pay for what you use rather than having to build your infrastructure to cope with peak demand, and to manage your own service with minimal intervention from your service provider. This is essentially what makes cloud computing so attractive – the agility to respond to changing market demands and launch new products fast, without increasing your capital expenditure.
- The technological model. For me, it’s cloud computing if the infrastructure – whether shared or dedicated – is sited outside the end user’s organisation.
Taken together, these two characteristics – paying on an as-needed basis for self-managed services, and infrastructure that’s remote to the end user – give us a good rough-and-ready definition of cloud computing.
The dilemma, of course, is that everyone likes the idea of paying per use, but many customers are concerned about losing control of their core systems. This means that we’re unlikely to see any large-scale migration of enterprise applications to the cloud in the near future – but customers can see significant benefits from introducing cloud elements into their infrastructures.
Cheaper, faster, safer: the benefits of cloud
There are three main business benefits of cloud computing:
- Capital avoidance – by provisioning what they need, when they need it, customers can cut their capital expenditure
- Time to market – rolling out new services happens in near real-time
- Safe, secure testing – using a virtual private data centre to build and run test environments avoids putting live data at risk
Our data centre offering makes it easy for customers to take the first steps into cloud, with a choice of ways into the data centre – over the public internet through a secure gateway, or with a full IPVPN setup giving them a secure connection straight to their data.
Connecting your customers – the network is key
Fundamentally it’s your network’s performance that delivers on the promise of cloud. That’s where our next-generation all-fibre network, able to connect to 85% of UK businesses, comes in. As well as the massive bandwidth you expect from fibre, our network has fewer intermediate connections – a “low hop count” – which gives it extremely low latency, translating into better performance for end users.
So if you’re trying to persuade your customers that the cloud won’t eat their data, if you’re delivering remote applications, or if you’re providing your own cloud services – shouldn’t we talk?
Want to talk cloud? Contact your Virgin Media Business account manager