Keeping the Clouds Open

    As more IT organizations start to get comfortable with the concept of cloud computing, there seems to be a lot more interest these days in the various ways IT organizations can connect to the cloud. As is often the case with IT, there are multiple approaches to consider.

    First up is the type of switch that should be deployed. There are pluses and minuses to consider when using either a Layer 2 or Layer 3 network switch. The latter is a lot easier to manage, but CloudSwitch CTO John Considine cautions that Layer 3 switches can easily be used to lock a customer into a specific cloud computing provider. Considine says that in terms of maintaining control over the cloud, the company’s cloud isolation technology leverages Layer 2 switches to give IT organizations the most amount of flexibility.

    Next up we have a new series of appliances called “cloud gateways.” Companies such as Riverbed Technology are pushing cloud storage gateways that make it easier to switch between cloud storage providers. As storage tends to be the first place that IT organizations make use of the cloud, Eric Thacker, director of product marketing for cloud storage at Riverbed, notes this is the first place that IT organizations will run into proprietary issues in the cloud.

    Finally, companies such as F5 Networks are touting the ability to virtualize diverse cloud storage offerings using an appliance that virtualizes all the files stored in multiple clouds. The latest versions of those file virtualization appliances, the ARX1500 and ARX2500 series, are intended to make this technology more accessible to small-to-medium businesses, says Renny Shen, product marketing manager for F5 Networks.

    Whatever approach IT organizations take towards the cloud, it’s pretty clear that freedom of choice now and into the future is going to be a critical IT requirement. After all, no one can be sure which cloud computing service provider is going to survive. And since there is no guarantee that your data may be available in the event of a cloud computing service provider collapse, a proverbial ounce of cloud computing protection is going to be worth a whole lot more than several pounds of cloud computing cure down the road.

    Mike Vizard
    Mike Vizard
    Michael Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist, with nearly 30 years of experience writing and editing about enterprise IT issues. He is a contributor to publications including Programmableweb, IT Business Edge, CIOinsight and UBM Tech. He formerly was editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise, where he launched the company’s custom content division, and has also served as editor in chief for CRN and InfoWorld. He also has held editorial positions at PC Week, Computerworld and Digital Review.

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