One of a company’s most precious assets is its cloud network. It is here that valuable information pertaining to the business – its assets and activities – are stored and shared among staff members and employees. It was predicted early in 2011 that by the following year “85 percent of net-new applications would be specifically designed to live in the cloud.” Designing your cloud network can, however, be a somewhat complicated venture. Some tips and nuggets to help you through the process are outlined below.
The structure of a cloud network
Before we go into the subject of how to design a cloud network, let us take a brief look at its structure. The central part is, of course, the computer system itself, with all of its active directories, backups, applications and accounting databases, and supported by the PBX telephone system. Attached to these components are the work stations, the VoIP audio and video phones, the LAN switches, the router and the firewall, plus surveillance cameras.
Finally, there are the remote locations and office users with their VoIP phones, smartphones and PDAs.
Tip #1 – Infrastructure is the key.
When we speak of infrastructure, we mean the basic structures necessary for a system to operate. Its computer definition, more specifically, is given by Netlingo as “the underlying basis for a system, supporting the flow and processing of information.” Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is one of the many “as a service” models offered by the cloud.
The first question that you will want to answer is what kind of cloud network you want to set up – private, public or hybrid. In all likelihood you will – if not in the beginning, then eventually – go for the hybrid option, which will allow you to use different clouds and establish a different tier in each one. Anything that relates to management and billing matters can be stored in the public section, while those of a more sensitive nature can be stored in the private section.
It is always necessary to weigh the costs of any venture against its potential benefits before making the final decision. Thus, with a public cloud you will have no need to buy an infrastructure and set it up; while on the other hand, a private cloud, though it can initially be more expensive, offers greater flexibility and more room to monitor traffic for optimization.
Tip #2 Then there is the topology.
By analogy with the structure of the a geometric object, cloud developers often speak of the “topology”of a network – how “flat” or “high” the configuration of its components is. Data and applications can move much more easily through a flat network than through a non-flat one. IT shops often decide to go for the flat type when making the shift from a public to a private or hybrid network.
Tip #3 – Implementing network automation
Automation is a major part of any networking system. It is invaluable for two main reasons: It eliminates the more mundane and repetitive tasks, thus freeing people for those things that absolutely require human judgment, and it does away with the possibility of human error. In addition, it can save time and money on such routine tasks as resetting the passwords, provisioning the devices and simple moves by employees.
Tip #4 – Heed the words of Albert Einstein
The famous scientist once said: “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not one bit simpler.” And this is most certainly true when it comes to designing a cloud network – if things are too complicated, then neither you nor any of your staff members or employees will be able to find their way around, but if any essential element is not present, then the system will not be able to function the way it is supposed to. It is crucial that you know the exact direction your traffic will be taking; otherwise, paths that are not accustomed to handling large amounts of it will become congested to point where nothing can move at all.
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