Networking in the Cloud

Is the cloud reliable and secure enough for your business?

By Kevin Stewart
Updated: May 27, 2011

Cloud computing is the general term that refers to the distributed computing capability that provides resources that are not within the physical control or local network of the end user. For example, software as a service (SaaS) applications are provided across networks, and users do not need to download and install the software on their local machines in order to use the application. Cloud applications are hosted by service providers that give users access to their systems through the “cloud.”

Cloud Networking is a more specific term that refers to outsourcing networking capability, including network setup, management, and maintenance. While the term cloud computing already implies use of networking capabilities, cloud networking refers specifically to business use of hosted networks, not just applications. This presents a number of issues, including security, capacity, and availability. Following are some advantages and disadvantages of adopting a hosted networking solution for your business.

Networking in the Cloud May Provide Enhanced Security

Small to Medium-sized businesses often have networks that are minimally secured. Focusing on their own business needs, small company networks can exist with standard security features such as firewalls and anti-malware. Cloud networking vendors must provide a higher level of security, based on the needs of their customers and the standards established for cloud computing vendors. This enhanced level of security may provide an advantage over the existing self-hosted model for small businesses.

Hosted Networking Can Cut Costs Dramatically

Designing and implementing a new physical network can be very expensive. Starting with the networking hardware and software, then adding the expertise to run a network is also expensive. A clear advantage of cloud networking solutions is the cost savings over building a network from scratch.

Some Businesses Must Control their Networks

Depending on the accountability required for your business, you may not have the option of outsourcing network resources. For example, a security company that provides premises monitoring and emergency response might need to control the physical resources for its own network based on contractual and licensing requirements. Other organizations that provide less mission-critical services may be more free to take advantage of cloud networking.

Any business that makes use of advanced networking capabilities should consider the potential advantages of cloud networking. While it may not be possible to outsource all of your networking needs, it is possible to selectively implement hosted networking services. After making a thorough analysis of your specific business needs and capacities, you can plan and implement the solution that meets your requirements.

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