Cloud and On-Premises Bandwidth Options You may need different connectivity depending on where your computing resources are located.
By: John Shepler
Whether you choose to have your data center on-premises or in the cloud, you’ll need high performance WAN bandwidth for connectivity. Let’s look at the various options.
Everything’s On Premises
One big advantage of maintaining your own in-house servers and other data center equipment is that you control the premises network. Your local area network (LAN) likely runs at least 100 to 1000 Mbps. The connections in the data center may be much higher for the short runs needed to interconnect storage, processing security appliances and the rest.
It’s important to note that this is a dedicated network for your exclusive use. If congestion is a problem, you need to upgrade the weak links because it is your operation that is causing the problem. There are no outsiders to cause interference. We’ll come back to that later.
Since all of your company connections are local, why do you need a a wide area network (WAN) at all? For one thing, you’ll have remote employees or employees that occasionally connect from home. For another, your operation may not be contained in one closed campus. You may have multiple offices, retail sites, franchises, warehouses or factories. Even if they are just across town, you have to lease network bandwidth to connect.
Ideally, you’d like these operations to look like they are also on your local network. You can do that with WAN network connections that look like your LAN connections. Metro Ethernet and long haul Ethernet connections are available from 10 Mbps to 10 Gbps and look just like very long LAN cables. Transparent LAN service (TLS) is a managed carrier service that links locations no matter how far apart they as switched nodes.
Connecting to the Outside World
How is it that you connect to your customers and suppliers? These days it is probably via the Internet. You’ll want a high speed dedicated Internet connection to reach out to customers and suppliers and access Internet resources. You may well have a security appliance in the line between the Internet link and your network to keep malicious actors out of your company.
Remote employees will also use the Internet but may connect using a VPN or Virtual Private Network. This adds encryption to your Internet sessions so that they can’t be accessed by anyone not authorized.
Another consideration is the connection that customers use to access your E-commerce servers. Sometimes that bandwidth for this activity is much larger than what you are actually using in-house. You’ll want a fiber optic dedicated Internet access connection to your customer facing servers.
Facilities in the Cloud
The joke going around is that there really is no cloud, it’s just somebody else’s computer. Strictly speaking, that’s true. The advantage of the cloud is that one massive data center can host and maintain thousands of servers with backup power and massive connectivity at reasonable prices. Some companies may want to keep their in-house processes under local control and have their e-commerce servers in the cloud where they can have those massive scalable resources.
The cloud provider will take care of Internet bandwidth out to your customers. You’ll also need an Internet connection with enough bandwidth to efficiently upload and download files from your cloud servers. If you choose to have business process software running on cloud servers, you connectivity will be crucial to the in-house user experience. Latency can be a big issue in responsiveness. Variations in latency due to congestion or line issues can kill productivity and become a major morale problem.
For the best performance, you’ll want a high speed dedicated connection directly to your cloud service provider, avoiding the Internet completely. If that is not available or beyond the budget, a dedicated Internet connection with enough capacity for everyone is a reasonable substitute.
Why Dedicated Bandwidth?
As you may have surmised, there are two types of line services: Dedicated and shared. Dedicated lines are assigned to your traffic only. Whatever you don’t use at the moment sits idle, but you never have to contend with someone else hogging the bandwidth. Point to point E-Line, E-Line and E-Tree connections are all dedicated, as are T1 lines and DS3 bandwidth.
MPLS networks are actually a shared resource, but are a private network carefully managed to ensure that the committed resources in the contract are available at all times. They behave like dedicated resources, but with a cost savings if you need to link many sites.
The public Internet is inherently a shared resource. The core network has reasonably high performance, although equipment failures can occasionally grind performance to a halt. The Internet is designed to work around faults, but may not be able to maintain full speed if some nodes are overloaded.
The real issues with the Internet revolve around the last mile connection performance and no ability to set priority for highly sensitive packets like VoIP telephone calls and video conferences. Shared Internet connections include DSL, cable and cellular broadband. They work well for many uses and offer bargain rates, but you have to accept variations in performance that can range from unnoticeable to highly annoying.
It also should be noted that shared Internet connections tend to offer much higher download than upload speeds, often in the range of 10 to 1. That’s because most users, especially those watching video, are receiving far more data from the Internet than they are sending. Dedicated connections usually offer the same speeds on download and upload, which might be important for business processes, file transfers, telephone, video conferencing and data backups.
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