As Cloud Trends Drive User Expectations Higher, Networks Must Now Deliver Applications Faster, Safer, Cheaper
As Cloud Trends Drive User Expectations Higher, NetworksMust Now Deliver Applications Faster, Safer, CheaperTranscript of a sponsored podcast discussion on how networks are going to support growingapplication and media delivery demands.Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod. Sponsor: AkamaiDana Gardner: Hi. This is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and you’re listening to BrieﬁngsDirect. Today, we present a sponsored podcast discussion on how the major IT trends of the day, from mobile to cloud to app stores are changing the expectations we all have from our networks. We hear about the post-PC era, but really does anyone talk about the post- LAN or even the post-WAN era? How are the networks of yesterday going to support the applications and media delivery requirements of tomorrow?It’s increasingly clear that more users will be using more devices to access more types of contentand services. They want coordination among those devices for that content. They want it donesecurely with privacy and they want their IT departments to support all of their devices for all oftheir work applications and data too.From the IT mangers perspective, they want to be able to deliver all kinds of applications usingall sorts of models, from smartphones to tablets to zero clients to web streaming to fat-clientdownloads and website delivery across multiple public and private networks with control andwith ease.This is all a very tall order, and networks will need to adjust rapidly or the latency and hassle ofaccess and performance issues with this would get in the way of users, their new expectations,and their behaviors, for both work and play.Were here today with an executive from at Akamai Technologies to delve into the rapidlyevolving trends and subsequently heightened expectations that were all developing around ournetworks and we are going to look at how those networks might actually rise to the task.Please join me in welcoming our guest. Were here with Neil Cohen, Vice President of ProductMarketing at Akamai Technologies. Welcome to BrieﬁngsDirect, Neil.Neil Cohen: Hi, Dana. Happy to be here.
Gardner: So Neil, given these heightened expectations -- and it’s growing rapidly as were all inthis always-on hyper connectivity mode -- how are networks going to rise to this? Are theymaybe even at the risk of becoming the weak link in how we progress from this point?Change is neededCohen: Nobody wants the network to be the weak link, but changes deﬁnitely need to happen. Look at what’s going on in the enterprise and the way applications are being deployed. It’s changing to where theyre moving out to the cloud. Applications that used to reside in your own infrastructure are moving out to other infrastructure, and in some cases, you don’t have the ability to place any sort of technology to optimize the WAN out in the cloud. Mobile device usage is exploding. Things like smartphones and tablets are all becoming intertwined with the way people want to access their applications. Obviously, when you start opening up more applications through access to the internet, you have a new level of security that you have to worry about whenthings move outside of your ﬁrewall that used to be within it.Gardner: Neil, one of the things thats interesting to me is that there are so many differentnetworks involved with an end-to-end lifecycle now. We think about mobile and cloud, and wedon’t have one administrator to go to, one throat to choke, as it were. How do people approachthis problem when there are multiple networks, and how do you know where the weak link is,when there is a problem?Cohen: The ﬁrst step is to understand just what many networks actually mean, because even thathas a lot of different dimensions to it. The fact that things are moving out to public clouds meansthat users are getting access, usually over the internet. We all know that the internet is verydifferent than your private network. Nobody is going to give you a service-level agreement(SLA) on the internet.Something like mobile is different, where you have mobile networks that have differentattributes, different levels of over subscription and different bottlenecks that need to be solved.This really starts driving the need to not only 1) bring control over the internet itself, as well asthe mobile networks.But also 2) the importance for performance analytics from a real end user perspective. Itbecomes important to look at all the different choke points at which latency can occur and to beable to bring it all into a holistic view, so that you can troubleshoot and understand where yourproblems are.Gardner: This is something we all grapple with. Occasionally, we’ll be using our smartphonesor tablets and performance issues will kick in. I don’t have a clue where that weak link is on thatspectrum of my device back to some data center somewhere. Is there some way that the network
adapts? Is there a technology approach to this? We all want to attack it, but just brieﬂy from atechnological perspective, how can this end-to-end solution start to come together?Cohen: There are a lot of different things that people are looking at to try to solve application delivery outside of the corporate network. Something we’ve been doing at Akamai for a long time is deploying our own optimization protocols into the internet that give you the control, the SLA, the types of quality of service that you normallyassociate with your private network.And there are lots of optimization tricks that are being done for mobile devices, where you canoptimize the network. You can optimize the web content and you can actually develop differentformats and different content for mobile devices than for regular desktop devices. All of thoseare different ways to try to deal with the performance challenges off the traditional WAN.Gardner: Its my sense that the IT folks inside enterprises are looking to get out of this business.Theres been a tendency to bake more network services into their infrastructure, but I think asthat edge of the enterprise moves outward, almost to inﬁnity at this point, with so many differentscreens per user, that they probably want to outsource this as well. Do you sense if that’s the caseand are the carriers stepping up to the plate and saying, "We’re going to take over more of thisnetwork performance issue?"Cohen: I think theyre looking at it and saying, "Look, I have a problem. My network isevolving. Its spanning in lots of different ways, whether its on my private network or out on theinternet or mobile devices," and they need to solve that problem. One way of solving it is tobuild hardware and do lots of different do-it-yourself approaches to try to solve that.Unwieldy approachI agree with you, Dana. That’s a very unwieldy approach. It requires a lot of dollars andarguably doesn’t solve the problem very well, which is why companies look for managedservices and ways to outsource those types of problems, when things move off of their WAN.But at the same time, even though theyre outsourcing it, they still want control. Its important foran IT department to actually see what trafﬁc and what applications are being accessed by theusers, so that they understand the trafﬁc and they can react to it.Gardner: At the same time Im seeing a rather impressive adoption pattern around virtualizeddesktop activities and there’s a variety of ways of doing this. We’ve seen solutions from folkslike Citrix and Microsoft and we’re seeing streaming, zero-client, thin-client, and virtual-desktopactivities, like infrastructure in the data center, a pure delivery of the full desktop and theapplications as a service.
These are all different characterizations I suppose of a problem on the network. That is to saythat there are different network issues, different payloads, and different protocols and technology.So how does that ﬁt into this? When we look at latency, its not just latency of one kind ofdelivery or technology or model. Its multiple at the same time.Cohen: You’re correct. There are different unique challenges with the virtual desktop models,but it also ties into that same hyper-connected theme. In order to really unleash the potential ofvirtual desktops, you don’t only want to be able to access it on your corporate network, but youwant to be able to get a local experience by taking that virtual desktop anywhere with you justlike you do with a regular machine. You’re also seeing products being offered out in the marketthat allow you to extend virtual desktops onto your mobile tablets.You have the same kind of issues again. Not only do you have different protocols to optimize forvirtual desktops, but you have to deal with the same challenges of delivering it across that entireecosystem of devices, and networks. That’s an area that we’re investing heavily in as it relates tounlocking the potential of VDIs. People will have universal access, to be able to take theirdesktops wherever they want to go.Gardner: And is there some common thread to what we would think of in the past asacceleration services for things like websites, streaming, or downloads? Are we talking about anentirely new kind of infrastructure or is this some sort of a natural progression of what folks likeAkamai have been doing for quite some time?Cohen: Its a very logical extension of the technology we’ve built for more than a decade. If youlook a decade ago, we had to solve the problem of delivering streaming video, real-time over theweb, which is very sensitive to things like latency, packet loss, and jitter and that’s no differentfor virtual desktops. In order to give that local experience for virtual users, you have to solve thechallenges of real-time communication back and forth between the client and the server.Gardner: And these are fairly substantial issues. It seems to me that if you can solve thesenetwork issues, if you can outsource some of the performance concerns and develop a better setof security and privacy, I suppose backstops, then you can start to invest more in your data centerconsolidation efforts -- one datacenter for a global infrastructure perhaps.You can start to leverage more outsource services like software as a service (SaaS) or cloud. Youcan transform your applications. Instead of being of an older platform or paradigm or model, youcan start to go towards newer ones, perhaps start dabbling in things like HTML5.If I were an architect in the enterprise, it seems to me that many of my long-term cost-performance improvement activities of major strategic initiatives are all hinging on solving thisnetwork problem. So do you get that requirement, that request, from the CIO saying, "Listen, Imbetting my future on this network. What do I need to do? Who do I need to go to to make surethat that doesn’t become a real problem for me and makes my dollar spent perhaps more risky?"
Business transformationCohen: What Im hearing is more of a business transformation example, where the businesscomes down and puts pressure on the network to be able to access applications anywhere, to beable to outsource, to be able to offshore, and to be able to modernize their applications. That’sreally mandating a lot of the changes in the network itself.The pressure is really coming from the business, which is, "How do I react more quickly to thechanging needs of the business without having IT in a position where they say, I cant." Theinternet is the pervasive platform that allows you to get anywhere. What you need is the qualityof service guarantees that should come with it.Gardner: I suppose we’re seeing two things here. We’ve got the pressure from the business side,which is innovate, do better, and be agile. IT is also having to do more with less, which meansthey have to in many cases transform and re-engineer and re-architect. So you have a lot of windin your sails, right? There are a lot of people saying, I want to ﬁnd somebody who can come tothis network problem with some sort of a comprehensive solution, that one throat to choke. Whatdo you tell them?Cohen: I tell them to come to Akamai. If you can help transform a business and you can do it ina way that is operationally more efﬁcient at a lower cost, you’ve got the winning combination.Gardner: And this is also I suppose not just an Akamai play, but is really an ecosystem play,because we’re talking about working in coordination with cloud providers, with other technologysuppliers and vendors. Tell me a little bit about how the ecosystem works and what it takes tocreate an end-to-end solution?Cohen: In order to solve this problem as it relates to access anywhere and pervasive connectivityon any device, you deﬁnitely need to strike a bunch of partnerships. Given Akamai’s presencehas been in the internet and the ISPs, the types of partnerships that are required are getting yourfootprints inside of the corporate network, to be able to traverse over what we call hybrid cloudnetworks -- corporate users inside of the private network that need to reach out the public cloudsfor example.It requires partnerships with the cloud providers as well, so that people who are standing up newapplications on infrastructure and platform as service environments have a seamless integratedexperience. It also requires partnerships with other types of networks, like the mobile networks,as well as the service providers themselves.Gardner: And looking at this from a traditional internet value proposition, tell us, for those whomight not be that familiar with Akamai, what your legacy and your heritage is, and what some ofthe products are that you have now, so that we can start thinking about what we might lookforward to in the future.
Cohen: Akamai has been in business for more than 12 years now. We help business innovatorsmove forward with their Internet business models. A decade ago, that was really consumerdriven. Most people were thinking about things like, "Ive got this website. Im doing somecommerce. People want to watch video." That’s really changed in the last decade. Now, you seethe internet transforming into enterprise use as well.Akamai continues to offer the consumer-based services as it relates to improving websites andrich media on the web. But now we have a full suite of services that provide applicationacceleration over the internet. We allow you to reach users globally while consolidating yourinfrastructure and getting the same kind of beneﬁts you realize with WAN optimization on yourprivate network, but out over the internet.Security servicesAnd as those applications move outside of the Firewall, we’ve got a suite of security servicesthat address the new types of security threats you deal with when you’re out on the web.Gardner: One of the other things that I hear in the marketplace is the need for data, moreanalysis, more understanding what’s really taking place. Theres been sort of a black box, maybeseveral black boxes, inside of IT for the business leaders. They don’t always understand what’sgoing on in the data center, but Im sure they don’t understand what’s going on in the network.Is there an opportunity at this juncture, when we start to look for network services bridgingacross these networks, looking for value added services at that larger network level outside theenterprise, that we can actually bring a better view into what’s going on, on these networks, backto these business leaders and IT leaders? Is there an analysis, a business intelligence beneﬁt fromdoing this as well?Cohen: You’re absolutely right. What’s important is not only that you improve the delivery of anapplication, but that you have the appropriate insight in terms of how the application isperforming and how people are using the application so that you can take action and reactaccordingly.Just because something has moved out into the cloud or out on the Internet, it doesn’t mean thatyou can’t have the same kind of real-time personalized analytics that you expect on your privatenetwork. That’s an area we’ve invested in, both in our own technology investment, but also withsome partnerships that provide real-time reporting and business intelligence in terms of ourcritical websites and applications.Gardner: Is there something about the type of applications that we should expect a change?We’ve had some paradigm shifts over the past 20 years. We had mainframe apps, and then client-server apps, and then weve had N-tier apps and Web apps and services orientation is coming,where it is more of a services delivery model.
But, is the mobile cloud, these mega trends that we’re seeing, are fundamentally redeﬁningapplications. Are we seeing a different type of what we consider application deliveryrequirement?Cohen: A lot of it is very similar, which is the principle of the web. Websites are based onHTML and with HTML5, the web is getting richer, more immersive, and starting to approachthat as the same kind of experience you get on your desktop.What I expect to see is more adoption of standard web languages. It means that you need to usegood semantic design principles, as it relates to the way you design your applications. But interms of optimizing content and building for mobile devices and mobile speciﬁc sites, a lot ofthat is going to be using standard web languages that people are familiar with and that are justevolving and getting better.Gardner: So maybe a way to rephrase that would be, not that the types of applications arechanging, but is there a need to design and build these applications differently, in such a way thatthey are cloud-ready or hybrid-ready or mobile-ready?Are there any thoughts that you have as someone who is really focused on the network of saying,"I wish I could to talk to these developers early on, when they’re setting up the requirements, sothat we could build these apps for their ability to take advantage of this more heterogeneouscloud and/or multiple networks environment?"Different spinCohen: Theres slightly a different spin on that one, Dana, which is, can we go back to thedevelopers and get them to build on a standard set of tools that allow them to deal with thedifferent types of connected devices out in the market? If you build one code base based onHTML, for example, could you take that website that youve built and be able to render itdifferently in the cloud and allow it to adapt on the ﬂy for something like an iPhone, an Android,a BlackBerry, a 7-inch tablet, or a 9-inch tablet?If I were to go back to the developers, I’d ask, "Do you really need to build different websites orseparate apps for all these different form factors, or is there a better way to build one commonsource, a code, and then adapt it using different techniques in the network, in the cloud that allowyou to reuse that investment over and over again?"Gardner: So part of the solution to the many screens problem isn’t more application interfacedesigns, but perhaps a more common basis for the application and services, and let the networktake care of those issues on a screen to screen basis. Is that closer?Cohen: That’s exactly right. More and more of the intelligence is actually moving out to thecloud. We’ve already seen this on the video side. In the past people had to use lots of differentformats and bit rates. Now what they’re doing is taking that stuff and saying, "Give me one high
quality source." Then all of the adaptation capabilities that are going to be done in the network,in the cloud, just simplify that work from the customer.I expect exactly the same thing to happen in the enterprise, where the enterprise is one commonsource of code and a lot of the adaptation capabilities are done, again, that intelligent functioninside of the network.Gardner: Im afraid we are about out of time, Neil. I really appreciate getting a betterunderstanding of what some of the challenges are as we move into this “post-PC” era.Youve been listening to a sponsored podcast discussion on how the major IT trends of the dayare changing the expectations we all have from our networks, and how those networks might riseto the occasion in helping us stay on track in terms of where we want things to go.I want to thank our guest. We’ve been here with Neil Cohen, Vice President of ProductMarketing at Akamai Technologies. Any closing thoughts Neil, on where people might considerthe future networks to be and what they might look like?Cohen: This is the hot topic. The WAN is becoming everything, but you really need to changeyour views as it relates to not just thinking about what happens inside of your corporate network,but with the movement of cloud, all of the connected devices, all of this quickly becoming thenetwork.Gardner: Very good. Thanks again. This is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at InterarborSolutions. I also want to thank our audience for joining, and welcome them to come back nexttime.Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod. Sponsor: AkamaiTranscript of a sponsored podcast discussion on how networks are going to support growingapplication and media delivery demands. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2011. Allrights reserved.You may also be interested in: • WAN Governance and Network Uniﬁcation Make or Break Successful Cloud and Hybrid Computing Implementations • MSP inTechnology Improves Network Services Via Automation and Consolidation of Management Systems • HP Releases Networking Solutions, Appliances That Target Speciﬁc Woes of SMB Market • Cloud-Mobile Mega Trends Point to Need for Rapid, Radical Applications Transformations, Say HP