One of the most enjoyable parts of my job as a product manager is launching a new product. Typically this is a shiny new widget or a great piece of software. But for a cloud-based service like Cisco’s ScanSafe Web Security solution, the infrastructure is a big part of the product.
For those not familiar with the product, ScanSafe offers web security solutions to organizations ranging from global enterprises to small businesses. The service provides multiple layers of malware protection and acceptable use controls to block users from specific websites and categories. It does this by redirecting end-user web traffic directly to the cloud where every web request is analyzed using artificial intelligence-based “scanlets” to determine the associated security risk. With such heavy processing and computation, the nature of the cloud is as important as the service in the cloud.
That is why today, I am pleased to welcome Canada to ScanSafe’s cloud with the addition of two datacenters—the first in Vancouver and the second in Toronto. Canada has been an early adopter of SaaS-based technologies, and our newest datacenters will help us serve our customers in the region. In addition, companies with branch offices in these locations will now benefit from a local internet breakout.
With these two points on the map, our global datacenter footprint now stands at 21, including 2 each in New York and London. ScanSafe started 2011 with 13 datacenters and we are closing the year out with 21. This includes our datacenters in Sao Paulo and Johannesburg, which we launched last month.
So why is this important? Two reasons. First, when customers choose a cloud-based web security solution, they forward all their web traffic to the closest datacenter. Now, any delay in getting the traffic to the datacenter could translate to some latency in browsing. And, as any network administrator can attest, web users are very sensitive to even the slightest delay. That is why when you pick a cloud vendor you need to evaluate the infrastructure as closely as you test the service. In addition to verifying the performance from the corporate HQ, customers should check the user experience from branch offices. The breadth of coverage that Cisco’s cloud offers, allows enterprises to guarantee rich internet connectivity to all their employees regardless of location, while securing the content.
But beyond geographical coverage, it is important to remember that with a cloud service, reliability is just as important as reach. That is where ScanSafe has a clear lead over other solutions. We have operated our datacenters with 100% up time for over 7 years. Yes you read that right. For over 7 years our customers have never experienced an outage in Internet connectivity while utilizing our service.
Building and deploying a cloud solution with such a record and on a global scale take some engineering and management. How do we do it? That will be the subject of my next post.