3 Benefits of Virtual Private Clouds

All too often, service providers state that they are a perfect fit for the Cloud business because they already provide the network.  What does this mean?  How do businesses really benefit?  Is the network an integral part of your application or is it just a dumb pipe?  I intend to answer these questions and more as I walk through the 3 benefits of Virtual Private Clouds.

Before we get started let’s baseline the definition of Virtual Private Cloud.  Virtual Private Clouds are similar to public clouds in that their resources are owned an operated by the Cloud provider.

Unlike public clouds, that are Internet reachable, Virtual Private Clouds are Intranet reachable.  So they look and feel like a part of a companies MPLS-based internal Wide Area Network.

1)  Bandwidth Efficiency

Take a look at the following two diagrams.  Notice anything different?  Exactly, the one on the left has traffic destined for the cloud looping through the company datacenter.  This is a big waste of bandwidth, not to mention router, switch, and firewall capacity.  You will pay twice for bandwidth, once for the primary WAN connection and then the Internet.  What about network sizing?  Cloud resources are all on-demand, yet your network must be sized for peak.  How is that efficient?

With Virtual Private Clouds, shown in the right diagram, your users will take the shortest and most efficient path to the application.  The bandwidth required to reach the cloud will be provided and billed for on-demand.

2) Application Performance

The Internet does not have Class of Service!!  That is probably all I need to say but let me explain a little further.  The Internet can get congested at times and when it does your application traffic could suffer.  Also, in as much as you think you sized your network for peak, inbound congestion on your Internet circuit could greatly impact application performance.  See point of congestion as indicated in the left diagram above.  Don’t understand why your app is running so slow?  Look over the cubicle wall to see who is using BitTorrent and messing things up for you and everybody else.

With Virtual Private Clouds, the Cloud resources appear on the corporate MPLS-based, Class of Service enabled, WAN. So traffic that needs a higher priority can be marked and delivered accordingly.  Problems on the Internet and inconsiderate colleagues are not a factor.

3) Security

Traffic to and from the Virtual Private Cloud stays within the corporate firewall without crossing the Internet.  With routing policies companies can also specify which users are allowed to reach the Cloud resources and which are not.

With public clouds, encryption technology will be required to help secure the transmission across the Internet. Although encryption is generally secure it is still one more thing that needs to be managed by Corporate IT and it needs to be configured correctly.  Furthermore, corporate IT will have no way to prevent users from attempting to access the Cloud resources.

There are probably many other benefits to Virtual Private Clouds but these are the three that jumped into my mind.

Why do you think Virtual Private Clouds are best suited to service businesses?  Do you agree or disagree with my top three?
Don Parente Technology Strategy and Chief Architect Director AT&T About Don