How the network supports cloud computing

Over the last few years there have been a seemingly endless array of articles and reports written on cloud computing. These articles are helpful in that they identify trends in the growing adoption of cloud computing. However, these articles and reports seldom focus on what all of this means to the network. The next two newsletters will focus on the impact of cloud computing on the network in general and will look at the role of the application delivery controller in particular.

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There is not a universally agreed to definition of what is meant by cloud computing. In most people's minds, cloud computing is a set of several inter-related trends. One such trend is mobility. In most cases, the phrase mobility refers to the over 1 billion mobile workers who want to access business applications. While that is a valid use of the term, mobility also refers to moving workloads between servers in the same data center as well as between servers in disparate data centers. Another trend that is associated with cloud computing is the ongoing webification of applications. While Web-based applications provide many advantages, they also create some significant challenges. For example, as pointed out in a recent IBM report, web applications accounted for nearly half of security vulnerabilities that IBM identified in 2010. The majority of these vulnerabilities represented cross site scripting and SQL injection. In addition, the typical web application uses 10 servers on average. The use of that many servers for a single application creates security, management and performance problems.

It is not just the growing use of Web based applications that is complicating the task of ensuring the security of cloud computing. The nature of hacking is also changing. Not that long ago the typical hacker was Kevin Mitnick. Mitnick, who hacked into Digital Equipment Corporation's network when Jim worked there, worked alone and was motivated primarily by the notoriety of reading about his hacks in the trade press. 

While that class of hacker still exists, today we are seeing new and more threatening classes of hackers. One such class is organized crime. These hackers are typically motivated to make money and are more sophisticated than are the Mitnicks of the world. For example, some of these groups have R&D budgets. Another new class of hacker is groups such as Anonymous. Anonymous is credited with hacking into companies such as Monsanto, Booz Allen Hamilton and Exxon Mobile because the group did not like the corporate policies of those companies.

The next newsletter will continue the discussion of the relationship between the network and cloud computing. Jim will be participating in a three city seminar tour on that general topic with Citrix in September and October. More information on that tour can be found at

New York City event - Sept. 8

Chicago Event - Oct. 11

San Francisco Event - Oct. 12

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Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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