Network Considerations for the Cloud: It All Comes Down to the App
At Green House Data we like to say there’s no “one size fits all” cloud deployment. That’s why we don’t have base package pricing on the website — every VM is right-sized and designed around our client’s applications and business goals. That philosophy applies to every cloud deployment, and the network considerations aren’t exempt.
Depending on your objectives, the intended use of the application in question, and the location of your users and service providers, your network will have different performance and cost implications.
Let’s take a look at how to prepare your network for varying application deployments in the cloud.
Where does your data come from?
Every application deals with some form of data. When preparing a cloud app, you need to examine where that data is sourced and where it resides. If you are regularly moving large datasets from one location to the cloud server site, you could incur large bandwidth costs and experience worse performance.
For large databases or quantities of unstructured data, you’ll likely want to go ahead and pay for attached cloud storage. If you have security or privacy concerns, address them with your provider through security hardening or a private cloud deployment (remember, the cloud is often actually more secure than on-premise). Otherwise you’ll need a top-tier network in terms of speed and reliability.
Look at your backup solutions as well. If they’re also in the cloud, then running everything in the cloud could be the most efficient. If you don’t backup often, you may not require as strong of a network connection.
Who accesses your data?
Are most of your users in the public, or remote workers from various locations? Do you have many offices? Or will most users be centralized in one place of business? For the latter, a direct link to the cloud provider can facilitate better performance. For access from many locations, configure your cloud application for public Internet access and/or Virtual Private Network access.
For internal use of cloud applications, don’t neglect the additional network traffic on-premise from your users accessing cloud data and apps, assuming that traffic traverses via WAN and the Internet and not a direct link to the cloud provider. This can cause stress on network branches to satellite offices as well, if your application path leads from the cloud provider through a central enterprise data center and onward to the branch offices.
Is this a hybrid application?
If your app is closely tied to your on premise IT infrastructure, you might be well served to install a direct link to the cloud provider, as any lengthy interruption in this connection could cause your application to fail and may even result in a rebuild or disaster recovery failover. While failover is wise to have, you don’t want to rely on it for regular use. Your network connection should be very robust and you should reinforce your internal networks in anticipation of increased traffic from the cloud application as well.
Use cases for this scenario include backup or bursting applications which leverage cloud resources only when necessary. In general these applications can be useful but do not perform as well as cloud-native apps.
What is the least impactful cloud deployment for the network?
Generally you will place the least stress on your internal corporate network by hosting cloud-native applications with a service provider, where the relevant databases or unstructured data are hosted within the cloud rather than synchronizing between the cloud and your on premise servers. Using the public Internet and VPN requires little additional infrastructure and less traffic over your local network.
Adding a private link is an additional expense but if you must move data back and forth regularly, you can use it in conjunction with your local LAN and local servers for a high network performance.
What about security?
Of course, security concerns rear their head as soon as you mention multitenant cloud resources. You should work closely with your cloud service provider to secure the VPN and public internet access points via firewalls and switching, both virtual and physical. Private links are more easily secured but should still be monitored and firewalled.
Remember to start small and scale up to test the complete impact of a cloud application on your network. Cloud resources should boost productivity for more than just your IT department, so be careful not to bog down end users due to network slowdowns.