image While helping Lori with her fishtank avocation, I have learned a lot of incidental information, like the fact that there are essentially three types of tank – reef, fish, and mixed. Reef tanks hold corals, anemones, etc, while fish tanks hold fish, with a minimum of incidental coral or coralline structure. Mixed tanks have fish who are carefully selected specifically not to eat the pretty corals, soft corals, anemones, and other tasty tidbits growing on the rocks. This is somewhat amazing to me, because in a sense, I share the Toddler’s view of fishtanks. He points and says “That’s Nemo’s Home!” and I point and say “That’s the fish tank!” Lori however has spent a lot of time making “the fish tank” work as a reef tank, so neither of us is doing the entire creation justice.

There is a similar phenomenon with Cloud. There are, in fact, three types of cloud – Internal, External, and Hybrid. And while the argument about which is better has been “settled” a million times, I don’t think there is a better solution unless you know your organization. Some organizations will not be comfortable putting critical data out on the public cloud, some will not be comfortable trusting their productivity to a public cloud, some will start in the cloud and never build a datacenter. It just depends upon your business, your market, and your leadership. I think short-term, hybrid will be the most visible model, just because people will implement internal but use external for point solutions.

The problem here is of course that most of us point and say “That’s Nemo’s Home In The Clouds!” when there is a world of difference between internal and external clouds – a world spanned by a hybrid infrastructure. But the one thing that is likely to be applicable no matter what is that your WAN connection will become the bottleneck. A bottleneck that inn some scenarios you can work out, and in some you cannot.

In the Clouds??!!??

Let’s say that you have moved an application or ten to a remote cloud (internal or external), and storage to remote cloud storage. Then you replicate and encrypt your secondary storage out to the cloud so that it is backed up and protected. While that replication is going on, your WAN connection has a heavy burden that it did not have before now (it might have for some people – replication between datacenters springs to mind – but for most of us it did not). This is a great use for the cloud because you’ll get a one-time upload fee and a monthly maintenance (disk usage) fee, but no other charges unless you update the replica – which you will want to do, but you can control how often and thus how much it costs. So your application “in the cloud” is clipping along, and your replication is going well, but your WAN connection is now feeling the pain.

image In many cases, WAN Optimization can help with this phenomenon by reducing the amount of traffic sent through your WAN connection. Many, but not all. In order to do the astounding magic that WAN Optimization devices do, they require a device on either end of the connection. If your cloud vendor lets you put in virtual machines, then you can run a virtual version of your WAN Optimization appliance and optimize between there and your data center. The only problem is that the largest amount of data being sent through your WAN in the above scenario is going to a cloud storage target, and if that cloud storage is on an internal cloud, you can use WAN Optimization, if it is not, you’ll need more than just what WAN Optimization has to offer.

Cloud Storage Gateways can give you that added bit of throughput if deployed correctly, since they will compress and dedupe on the way out of your datacenter, and then rehydrate on the way back in. That should cover the storage end nicely. Since most Cloud Storage Gateways do encryption on-the-fly also, you should be covered for all of the requirements if you are deploying both WAN Optimization and a Cloud Storage Gateway.

Whoa Dude, the clouds can be benign.

In the end, your WAN connection doesn’t have to be your bottleneck, and you can still point at your cloud and go “That’s Nemo’s Home In The Clouds” without concern for which type of cloud you’re working with. If your cloud provider does not offer you the ability to run VMs, then you might have a bit more difficulty. About the best solution out there at this time for such a problem would be to upgrade your WAN connection. It isn’t cheap, but if you can’t make less traffic flow through the connection, then the connection just has to be bigger. Since this scenario will likely be a small number of enterprises – they have to have enough traffic to need a solution, and have to have no ability to dedupe and compress on the connection between the primary data center and the cloud – this shouldn’t be a huge issue for the marketplace.

People have talked about the evolution of the data center, I think the evolution of the WAN is a better analogy. We’ve used the WAN for a very long time, now we’re going to see an increasing number of organizations actually utilizing it to the potential that was always there, but the infrastructure – and business – were not yet ready to take advantage of.

Images courtesy of Disney Pixar Studios and are linked to the source item.