The three articles in this issue that begin on page 27 and run through page 36 provide a few different perspectives on what cloud computing means within data centers and, importantly I think, also to managers of enterprise networks who will be the customers of cloud-service providers.
In my discussions with end-user organizations, analysts and vendors serving the structured cabling and networking industries, finding tangible direct relationships between an enterprise’s use of cloud services and the structured cabling systems within those users’ customer-owned networks has been a challenge. During a recent conversation on that topic, the manager of a large, mission-critical network explained to me that his primary concern with his organization’s use of cloud services was the need to spend internal resources rewriting the applications that would be sent to the cloud. I didn’t take the quote directly so I’ll paraphrase here, but the gist was that he knows the cloud will fail him at some point, and he wants the applications he’s sending to the cloud to be able to tolerate such a failure.
Was that concern going to keep him from sending mission-critical applications to the cloud? No. Has his current use of the cloud, coupled with his anticipated future use of the cloud, impacted his need for cabling systems in his own facility? In other words, is the cloud going to soften the market for cabling systems among enterprises? The answer, albeit from an admittedly small and unscientific sample to whom I have spoken, seems to be no.
The best I can size it up, the higher one goes on the network stack, the greater the implications and concerns once an application heads to the cloud. Those of us who spend a lot of our time down here at Layer 1 seem to be impacted the least.
That is, unless you’re inside the data center that hosts these cloud services. As gets pointed out in this issue, before users can even get hold of the recently approved TIA-942-A standard covering data center telecom infrastructure, the first addendum to that standard is in the works. The drafting of that addendum has been spurred by the proliferation of cloud-based data centers, which are largely virtualized computing environments and have presented a number of challenges with respect to connectivity among networking gear.
Thankfully, some of the most capable individuals who work at the intersection of data centers, cloud computing and structured cabling are tackling this issue. We’ll keep you updated.