Bringing the Cloud Down to Earth

Michael Vizard

One of things that has always troubled IT organizations is the latency issues associated with accessing any application running on a public cloud computing platform. After all, when it comes to application performance, network latency is usually the number one enemy even within the boundaries of the enterprise. Once you start adding wide-area networks to that equation, things can only get worse.

On top of that, the providers of cloud computing services are fond of charging a premium for network bandwidth access to make up for all that inexpensive compute power they offer.

The good news is that there are now a lot of interesting options starting to show up that promise to make network latency issues associated with cloud computing more manageable.

For instance, at the Interop 2011 conference the folks at Akamai and Riverbed Technology said they will be cooperating on building out a set of physical and virtual appliances that will optimize the performance of cloud computing applications across a content delivery network (CDN) by leveraging wide-area network (WAN) optimization technologies.

According to Apurva Dave, vice president of product marketing, although IT organizations sometimes see CDNs as an alternative to deploying WAN optimization, these technologies are actually fairly complementary in the cloud. Neither company would say what it is they plan to exactly develop, but the pact appears to be the latest in a series involving Akamai's efforts to position CDNs as a vehicle for delivering cloud computing applications. Similarly, Riverbed has allied itself with cloud computing providers such as CloudSwitch to help accelerate application performance in the cloud.

Elsewhere at Interop, Blue Coat Systems announced a new CloudCaching Engine that allows IT organizations to leverage a local WAN appliance to improve application performance in the cloud by caching a copy of the application in a MACH5 appliance. This approach doesn't require the appliance to be deployed in the public cloud computing service provider's data center, which essentially means that the internal IT department can maintain control over application performance regardless of where the application is deployed.

A third option that has also manifested itself of late is to simply invoke WAN optimization-as-a-service through providers such as Aryaka.

Finally, Citrix announced that customers can opt to accelerate specific types of cloud computing services via its WAN optimization appliances for branch offices.

No matter how the problem gets solved, application performance is one of the great unresolved issues when it comes to cloud computing, but it looks like progress is finally starting to be made on multiple fronts.
 



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