The Cloud and Your Network – Is There a Gap?

September 24, 2012 - 8 Comments

Cloud computing is coming, and we’re seeing businesses migrating to cloud services very quickly – Gartner expects 60% of enterprises will have migrated branch office services to the cloud or virtualized servers by 2015 (Gartner Analyst Review, February 2012). Yet, oddly enough, many businesses have done relatively little to prepare their existing network infrastructure for the inevitable transformation – despite the fact the network remains the critical path between their users and the cloud services they need to get their job done.

One reason for the rapid migration may be that cloud computing represents not only improved technology, but also a compelling business model that gives organizations greater mobility and agility with lower costs. Business executives are looking to the cloud will help their business compete and grow. Unfortunately, those aspirations are not always in synch with IT reality.

In April 2012, Cisco surveyed over 1300 IT professionals across 13 countries, and found that the most important element of infrastructure needed to implement cloud computing was a cloud-ready wide area network (37%). To our surprise, it even beat out virtualizing the data center as the most important element. Even more surprising was that the study revealed that many would – literally – rather undergo a root canal than lead the migration to cloud for their organization. While management may not offer that as a realistic alternative, it is clear is that IT professionals see a major gap between what business executives are expecting and what the network can deliver.

The reality is that most traditional networks were designed over 20 years ago, and were not architected with cloud computing in mind. Given understandable concerns about security, a 2011 Metzler and Associates study showed that 90% of cloud-bound traffic is being backhauled through the data center, which has huge implications for network congestion, resulting in higher bandwidth costs and a poorer user experience. With the movement to a shared infrastructure, IT may be losing visibility and its ability to meet the expectations of business executives and end users. With network demands increasing, resources stretched, and yet more major changes coming, how can IT professionals make the cloud transition effectively?

The good news is that if you have already made investments in Cisco’s current Enterprise routing portfolio, then you have the foundation for a cloud-ready network.  You can evolve your existing network to provide an optimal user experience, pervasive cloud security, simplified operations and transition to cloud computing successfully. In the latest edition of our “Ike, the IT Hero” series, you can see an example of how IT once again saves the organization by leveraging the power of a Cisco network.

If you are rethinking your network strategy as your business moves to the cloud, be sure to attend our Conquer the Cloud webcast series, where industry experts share best practices for building a cloud-ready network. Get your network ready for the cloud, and register for one or more of the following sessions: 
A BrightTALK Channel

In an effort to keep conversations fresh, Cisco Blogs closes comments after 60 days. Please visit the Cisco Blogs hub page for the latest content.


  1. Good article. I am excited that Cisco now offers a Cloud Intelligent Networking platform to help truly enable networks to intelligently handle cloud traffic.

    • Thank you for your comment, Nicole. The accelerated adoption of cloud computing just over the past year is making a cloud-ready network a priority, specifically looking at performance, security and operations.

  2. …I think that it’s a very important concern for keeping us in business is to be always designing, and upgrading the network for readiness and scalability according new technologies arrive…

    • Thank you for your comments, Dr. Wong-Perez. Organizations are seeing major transformations that will really force IT to re-think their architectural design. One major challenge is to get the different IT teams collaborate (Network, DC, Apps, Unified Communications), so finding an architectural leader will be very important for migration to the cloud, BYOD, VDI and more.

  3. Nice data. A “Cloud” ready architecture is a much bigger problem than just the enterprise network. It is the carriers and the state of national infrastructures today. Leased lines kill ROI for the average Joe. Cloud networking = Internet with some policy slapped on either locally and/or hair pinned. Without leadership from either the feds or local and municipals we will be under the stranglehold of the LECs and cable operators indefinitely. Google and Blair Levin’s GigU and GigAir projects are the two things that give me hope. Good, bad or stupid, organizations cannot so no to free which is a horse to water straight for the Internet becoming that LAN someday.

    Enjoyed reading the survey results, Thanks.

    • Thank you for joining the conversation, Brent. Your are right, this is not just an “Enterprise” issue. The public sector also faces a lot of pressure to drive lean, efficient operations, and need to work through the same exercise to re-think their architectural design. I do agree that we need to create more direct connections via the Internet, but much work has to be done to create a LAN-like experience.

  4. When do you think we will reach data transfers fast enough to warrant cloud computing for broadcast projects?

    • Good question, Przemek. I think this is one we need to pose to the experts participating one the Conquer the Cloud webcast series and see what each of them believe. I’m sure the answers will vary greatly, but what may be more interesting is what technology advancements will be most important to allow the system to scale. I encourage you to join the sessions.