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Was 2012 the Year of Cloud Computing?

2012: the Year of Cloud ComputingAs we wave good-bye to 2012, we look back on what has happened this past year and see which technologies really took a foot hold in networking.

There are two technologies that seem to have really stood out more so this past year than ever before.   Both Cloud Computing and Virtualization seemed to have been the mantra of 2012 and looking forward it doesn’t appear to be stopping any time soon.

Cloud Computing

The rise of Cloud Service Providers (CSP’s) have really brought cloud computing technology to the forefront.  Companies like Amazon, Apple, and Google have truly lead the way in making cloud computing a service. Even Dell and Microsoft are working on cloud services or have announced some sort of service offering in the coming future.  Heck it seems like every large company either has an internal private cloud or is using one of the various public cloud services.

How Do Cloud Services Affect Network Engineers?

As companies and network engineers look to embrace cloud computing and cloud service providers, a whole new set of challenges arise.  Managing your network and your data as well as keeping it secure continues to be paramount…  And for good reason.  Any time you hand over your data to a third party you have to have a thorough understanding of the security of the network you are using or risk being compromised.

If you work with any of these cloud service companies, you will quickly find out you are left with more questions than answers as you try to implement any solution using a CSP.  Typically CSP companies are extremely tight lipped about their cloud infrastructure and are not willing to disclose how their networks are architected, secured or run.

In one sense you can call this security through obscurity or a security model of “Just Trust Us”

In one sense you can call this security through obscurity or a security model of “Just Trust Us”.   However as a network engineer or architect, you are responsible for the security of your data. And most likely this will leave you feeling very uneasy.

Of course from a financial point of view, cloud computing makes sense and the accounting/executive teams love it. But handing the keys to the kingdom over to some other company can put your entire company at risk.

Is cloud computing here to stay?  I mean what is the cloud anyway.  Seems like a fancy word for just another network.  The Internet is a “Cloud” and we’ve been working with that for a long while.

The same routers and switches that power the cloud also power your business.  So what’s the big deal? There isn’t really anything revolutionary about the “Cloud”.   Or is there?

Well the biggest difference that makes the cloud, well… the cloud, is virtualization.  Which leads us to the other technology of 2012 that we saw a lot of.

Virtualization

Oh sure, we’ve been working with virtualization for a while.  Web servers like Apache has been virtualized for decades. Companies like VMWare have also been around for a long time too.  But lately it seems we’re seeing an explosion in virtualization EVERYWHERE.

Virtualized Routers, Virtualized Switches, Virtualized Load Balancers, Virtualized Servers, and Virtualized Firewalls.  Virtually everything is being virtualized.

We love virtualization and for a good reason.  It makes our lives easier. Our systems, applications, and data are easier to manage.  Our architectures are more flexible and resilient. We can spin up new servers or services on demand when the load is too high or quickly decommission servers or services when demand is low.

We can overlay entire networks over each other providing separate secure infrastructures for any purpose we desire.  We can fully utilize any piece of hardware to push it to its maximum capability and see the ultimate return on our investment through virtualization.

Using virtualization the network is now a fluid entity moving and flexing to accommodate demand and need.  Similar to… a cloud?

Wait… a cloud?  Yes, and this brings us full circle back to the cloud.

So in the end, Cloud computing is made possible by use of virtualization.  Hand in hand together they have made 2012 what it was.

Looking forward to 2013, what will the coming year bring?  More of the same?  Bigger, faster, stronger?  40Gig circuits?  Cheaper devices?

Predictions

Our prediction for the coming year is that we will be seeing new creative ways to use the cloud to make a more intelligent and flexible network.  We will see applications that make the network easier to manage in conjunction with the cloud.

Companies like Meraki come to mind, where networking devices are easily managed through the cloud.  More visibility into the network using cloud based applications that will allow network engineers the ability to more easily know and troubleshoot what is on the network.

The ability to easily create personal virtualized private clouds for any use, for example Hamachi by LogMeIn.  To be able to dynamically and easily adjust traffic based on application.  To optimize and prioritize your traffic on the fly.

What do you think?

So looking back on 2012, what do you think had the biggest impact on you?  And looking forward what do you see as some of the new hot technologies we will be seeing in 2013?

Use the comment box below and tell us how your year was and what you think the future year will bring.

Was 2012 the Year of Cloud Computing?
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About Joe

Senior Network Engineer, technology enthusiast, guitar and bass player. Joe Wilson is the creator of RouterFreak.com as well as other niche websites that can be found around on the Internets.

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