Cloud Networking Brings Unique Challenges - Page 2

 By Brian Proffitt
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WAN technology needs to be renovated

WAN technology, another area that needs renovating for the cloud, hasn't seen significant innovations for quite some time, something that Metzler argues needs to change. One potential improvement is the implementation of policy-based routers, which route traffic based on administrator-dictated policies, rather than IP addresses. This increases throughput and decreases latency, but there's a catch: if something in the network isn't working correctly, policy-directed packets won't reroute automatically as "regular" IP packets can.

Here, Metzler highlights the growing use of dynamic hybrid WANs that will switch traffic intelligently based on policy and traffic need. Such dynamic WANs represent virtualized WANs, and like virtual machines, virtual WANs can be managed and budgeted on a utility-like basis.

Network management is the final area that Metzler describes as needing enhancement for cloud deployments to really work well. Increased virtualization of machines brings out all of the old problems with VM management: VM sprawl, incompatibility with network management tools, multiple hypervisors, and more.

Cloud brings a whole new cadre of issues to the table for network management. One of the biggest challenges is dealing with systems that are managed at a higher level, instead of where they normally get managed.

"Historically IT organizations focused their management efforts on individual technology domains; e.g., LAN, WAN, servers, firewalls. While that is still the most common approach to management, in the current environment a significant and growing percentage of IT organizations focus their management activities on the performance of applications and/or services," Metzler explains.

With management focusing on the application level so much, it is predictable that network managers will increasingly need to operate with tools that are dealing with the same level. But with network topologies becoming more and more complex, managing said applications' performance will be "an order of magnitude more difficult." The white paper offers route analytics as one solution to getting this topology under control.

The complexity of cloud network management is certainly daunting, after reading the issues highlighted in this white paper. The positive news is that there seems to be solutions available for many of the challenges for cloud computing.

It's also clear that the networking side will need to marshal its efforts to stay caught up with the exploding deployment rate of cloud computing.

Brian Proffitt is a technology expert who writes for a number of publications. Formerly the Community Manager for Linux.com and the Linux Foundation, he is the author of 20 consumer technology books, including the most recent Take Your iPad to Work. Follow him on Twitter at @TheTechScribe.

This article was originally published on Mar 4, 2011
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