Seeing the Forest through the Trees: The Transparency of Carrier Networks and the Cloud

07/24/2012 |

Christopher Cullan

By Christopher Cullan, Product Marketing Manager, InfoVista

According to analyst firm Infonetics Research, Carrier Ethernet spending will grow to approximately $42.4 billion in 2016, as compared to $31.7 billion in 2011 – that’s a 34 percent hike in just five years! However, coupled with this rapid growth is wide variation among infrastructure and mechanisms used to deliver Carrier Ethernet services, presenting both challenges and opportunities for communications service providers (CSPs). At the same time, end users and enterprises continue to demand more bandwidth, higher levels of performance and increased transparency at low costs to meet their constantly shrinking IT budgets. These demands are further emphasized by the increasing prevalence of cloud computing.

These demands have not gone unnoticed; however, there seems to be an awareness gap between network and IT standard bodies. This gap was one of the primary reasons the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) published its recent white paper: “Carrier Ethernet for the Delivery of Private Cloud Services.” The paper aimed to open a dialogue between network and IT standard bodies to deal with the massive amount of data and the dynamic nature of application and resource infrastructure that are introduced by cloud computing.

The de facto access network for the cloud is often the Internet, but most applications were written with an implicit assumption that the network was local, available and high-performing.  This is simply not the case with best-effort, Internet-based access. As the paper concludes, Internet performance can drastically impact the quality of cloud computing services and applications (e.g. IaaS, PaaS, Saas) without any mechanism to control or assure QoS. In essence, the simplicity that cloud computing promises may be masking an added complexity that makes service assurance of these applications  not only more difficult but also much more critical.

For example, cloud computing demands that application requirements are mapped to the network, end-to-end, with defined quality of service (QoS), service level agreements (SLAs) and a single OAM layer, as provided by Connection Oriented Ethernet (COE) architectures. The ubiquity and tenants of Carrier Ethernet defined by the MEF are well aligned with the demands of cloud computing. However, cloud users must be able to visualize the end-to-end usage and performance of these cloud-based services and their underlying Carrier Ethernet networks.

To help CSPs meet the requirements of their enterprise customers, InfoVista created VistaInsight for Networks 5.0, which leverages the building blocks of Carrier Ethernet services to enable sophisticated service offerings, support revenue growth and report on the performance of data center resources, including virtual machines, load balancers and storage. The goal is to empower CSPs to proactively ensure the delivery of business-class services in alignment with both MEF standards and the nature of cloud computing services. With these capabilities, end users are better able to manage the performance of their cloud, representing the next big milestone in maximizing the benefits that Carrier Ethernet can deliver.

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