While there’s a tendency to think of cloud computing as a nebulous IT experience that provides continuous access to files and applications, the reality of cloud computing is governed much more by the unforgiving laws of physics. In fact, cloud computing is little more than a massive exercise in distributed computing where the location of files and applications matters more than ever.
Given that reality, there’s a lot more interest these days in putting applications in the cloud as near to the core Internet as possible without being locked into a specific carrier for network services.
According to Lou Najdzin, vertical development director for Equinix, the need to balance performance and flexibility has driven over 4,000 IT organizations to host their private cloud deployments in co-location facilities managed by Equinix that sit on top of the Internet exchanges, which are also managed by Equinix.
The concentration of customers is leading public cloud service providers such as CloudSigma to take advantage of those kinds of capabilities as part of an effort to unseat rivals such as Amazon Web Services by providing higher levels of service at a lower or comparable cost. In addition, software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers such as SugarSync have come to the same conclusion.
Najdzin says at this stage of cloud maturity, a lot of IT organizations still don’t appreciate how much location matters in the cloud. The closer any given data center is located to an Internet exchange hub, the better it will perform. The challenge, says Najdzin, is finding a way to gain access to that level of performance without having to be locked into a specific carrier. Without that kind of flexibility, Najdzin says that any leverage the customer might have in negotiating rates disappears.
For these reasons, a lot of IT organizations have been moving private cloud deployments into co-location facilities that give them access to the kinds of network bandwidth really necessary to drive a cloud application.
Of course, figuring all this out after a cloud application has already been deployed in an existing data center can turn out to be one of the most expensive lessons any IT organization is likely to learn in the age of the cloud.