Ironman triathletes are amazing to me.  I cannot imagine running a full marathon after swimming 2.4 miles and biking 112.  But having run a half marathon last year, I can see how people look for the next challenge, to push themselves to the next level and raise the bar on what’s already been done.

I’m fairly new to the world of cloud, but it seems more and more businesses are using cloud to achieve greater efficiencies, process innovations, or competitive differentiation.  But I wonder if (or when) the expected efficiencies will become table stakes?  For companies that have already realized the benefits of cloud, will their competitors be able to catch up by also adopting cloud solutions?  How can a company take it to the next level to gain or retain their edge?

In a new IDC Analyst Connection sponsored by AT&T, Melanie Posey explores The Network Enabled Cloud: The Next Phase of Cloud Evolution.  This type of solution offers a pre-integrated cloud and network architecture that provides end to end security with the cloud resources as additional nodes on the client’s corporate network.  A network-enabled cloud also allows an enterprise to leverage the other features of their MPLS VPN, such as quality-of-service routing and traffic management and prioritization.  There is less implementation effort and expense and bandwidth is used more efficiently.  According to Posey, network enabled cloud can also help enterprises think more broadly about their cloud strategies.

Network enabled cloud computing is well suited for:

  • Mission critical apps that require a highly secure environment
  • Collaborative and follow-the-sun type applications that require portability
  • ERP applications that require lower latency and greater throughput

Posey also explores what to look for in a network enabled cloud provider such as SLAs, the service provider’s network and data center footprints, and the ability to connect to other clouds.

With network-enabled cloud computing from AT&T, the network resources are able to flex together with the compute resources provisioned as depicted in this new infographic on Why the Network Matters in Cloud Computing.  This allows the user to engineer optimal performance and avoid over provisioning.  In fact, enterprises can save as much as 60% on networking.

It seems to me that cloud network enablement combines the scalability of public cloud with the enterprise-grade security, performance, data availability and control of private cloud.  This may alleviate the security concerns enterprises have about adopting cloud for mission-critical workloads and allow them to take their IT transformation to the next level.

While I won’t be tackling an Ironman triathlon anytime soon, I am excited at the challenge to learn more about cloud and raise the bar.

What is your business doing to “go beyond” the usual with cloud in 2013?