Welcome to the Cloud's New Edge

Arthur Cole
Slide Show

Deploying Applications in the Cloud

While there's more talk than actual use of cloud computing in the enterprise, a Zeus Technology survey looks at the beginnings of a major shift under way. Clear expectations and planning can improve your experience and near-term success.

Cloud computing relies heavily on robust network connections in order to facilitate a fluid data environment. This is having a dramatic effect on the edge in particular as it adapts to its new role as a bridge between disparate resource pools.

One of the ways this is playing out is increased WAN functionality on routers and gateway devices. Coupled with outside WAN optimization and other technologies, the goal is to provide seamless transition between on-premise infrastructure and the cloud.

Juniper Networks moved the ball a little farther this month with the release of a trio of new MX Series 3D routers and a new SRX gateway. The 20, 40 and 60 GB MX units provide non-Ethernet modular line cards, as well as dual clear channel and channelized options for various carrier rates like OC3, OC12 and OC48. By supporting a wider range of WAN infrastructures, the devices will help future-proof the edge for increased cloud traffic.

In the coming age of smartphones, the edge will be more than simply a conduit to wired networks. New wireless platforms like Meru Networks' AP4000 Mobile Edge specialize in the transition between wired Ethernet architectures and the virtual wireless LAN. The Meru system provides for three-stream 802.11 quad-radio access points, supporting a maximum data rate of 1.8 Gbps. It also utilizes the company's proprietary sub-carrier optimization technology to accommodate new generations of low-power devices.

At the same time that enterprises are reaching out, however, carriers are reaching in. Cellular firms are looking to add greater intelligence to their edge stations through improved processing and advanced software platforms. The UK's Ubiquisys recently teamed up with Intel to capitalize on this trend with a new line of dual-mode 3G/LTE cell technology. The idea is to devise a wireless cloud of IP processing capability that will help offload network and application processing without the need for lengthy backhaul and massive centralized server architectures.

One of the main functions of the new edge network will be the delivery of a new generation of virtual appliances - ones that can just as easily find homes in the cloud as in the local data center. As described by searchnetwork.com's Michael Brandenburg, these new VA's essentially mobilize the network edge, allowing it to extend or contract across various infrastructures depending on application and data needs.

It's almost as if the edge has become the physical embodiment of the cloud, shifting and moving at the whim of the prevailing data winds. It won't be as predictable as today's edge, but it should prove more adaptable to the changes ahead.

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