Cloud enablement

Cloud Could Face Network Bottlenecks

NEW YORK -- Carrier Cloud Forum -- Cloud computing is all about delivering services in real time, but how does that jibe with a network that's built on not-so-nimble virtual private networks (VPNs) and static circuits?

The topic came up here during a panel titled, "Building the On-Demand Cloud Infrastructure." A lot of attention is being lavished on how to get carriers' back-office and OSS systems primed for cloud services. But there's a network aspect to be considered, too, and panelists seemed eager to talk about it when an audience member brought it up.

That's because they happen to be working on the problem already. Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) is working with a couple of carriers on "building dynamic environments for VPN interconnect," said David Frattura, senior director of cloud strategy.

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) likewise has prototype setups running with service providers, where the orchestration layer stays informed about things like network connections and security requirements, said Simon Aspinall, a Cisco director of marketing. He expects Cisco to reveal some of this work during the next 12 months, as the vendor tries to build an environment "where the network is becoming very cloud-aware and the cloud is becoming network-aware."

This leads to an argument that the network, in the case of cloud services, can't be a dumb pipe. Kip Turco, now a senior vice president with Windstream, noted during the panel that this is why Windstream Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: WIN) bought Hosted Solutions (acquiring Turco himself in the process). (See Windstream Unwraps Cloud Strategy.)

All this orchestration could open up some upselling angles, too. "If you're a first-mile provider, and your customer wants to consume 20 virtual desktops ... shouldn't you pop up a window saying that for this period of time, they really should consume extra bandwidth?" Frattura said.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

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^Eagle^ 12/5/2012 | 4:51:54 PM
re: Cloud Could Face Network Bottlenecks

Seven, lol.... you are sooo bad!  

I enjoy your posts and that you speak the truth and are not shy about it.


paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 4:51:54 PM
re: Cloud Could Face Network Bottlenecks

"Cloud computing is all about delivering services in real time, but how does that jibe with a network that's built on not-so-nimble virtual private networks (VPNs) and static circuits?"

Okay I get the idea of static circuits as you are talking about how routers are connected - and yes they have pipes that are circuits.  Okay what do you mean by VPN in this context?

Do you mean:

- User VPNs (normally Layer 3 VPNs that connect to various sites)?

- Carrier VPNs (normally Layer 2 VPNs that mesh the routers over the static circuits)?

- Something else?



paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 4:51:53 PM
re: Cloud Could Face Network Bottlenecks

Thanks Sailboat!

In this particular case, I was trying to figure out what folks were complaining about before I state what I think.  I generally (not always :) ) try to actually work off the question and comments as stated.

Given that I work in "The Cloud", I find the articles on this stuff most interesting.  The only challenge is that I think Carol misunderstands some of my posts.  I think many of the things she writes about are quite interesting and up for debate.  I would love to see more debates here (and sometimes I post in her threads just to stir the pot to see what pops up).  I think that has come across incorrectly, but maybe she will read this.


PS - Now Craig...what the heck were they talking about?


Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 4:51:52 PM
re: Cloud Could Face Network Bottlenecks

Seven - I honestly don't know which it was, or if it was both; the VPN topic was mentioned in the audience question and Aspinall, in particular, kind of rolled with it without elaborating on specifics. Personally, I was thinking more about the Layer 2 case -- regarding how the network's innards react when a new service needs to be turned up -- but I'd have to probe Cisco and AlcaLu to get a better read on what they're thinking

We do appreciate the rabble-rousing posts, btw. Always happy to see someone trying to start serious discussion on here.

joferrei 12/5/2012 | 4:51:48 PM
re: Cloud Could Face Network Bottlenecks

When the stated problem concerns statically provisioned circuits and VPNs, perhaps the solution for the more dynamic cloud applications is something like VPNs-on-demand.

There's renewed, this time serious, interest also on concepts like flexible/dynamic/adaptable 'optical' (often really, digital) network connectivity between the servers/routers.

How about demand driven Layer 1 VPNs ie dynamic L1 private networks where the customer access points and/or their interconnect bandwidth levels are driven by customer demands rather than being statically provisioned?

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 4:51:47 PM
re: Cloud Could Face Network Bottlenecks

There are lots of layers here and really I think we need to pull them apart to be effective in commentary on them.

There are the telecom services that connect to something like AWS to a customer of AWS services.  That is really done by both sides having big Layer 3 pipes and doing either Layer 3 networking or VPNing between them.  So, if you want a VPN to a private AWS instance that is possible.  Both sides will have bought bandwidth (layer 3 bandwidth in particular).

There is AWS as it buys its bandwidth and provisions the VPN services that it offers.  Not sure that specific hardware products that carriers are expecting use will help that bit.

There is also how Carriers build their Layer 3 networks.  Those are more or less dynamic dependent on what technology this is based on.  There are many, many issues with this.  Bandwidth is not generally hanging around "unused" at layer 1. 

I think the dynamic nature of all of this is overstated.  Each instance might have pretty big ups and downs.  Aggregated?  Maybe - maybe not.  Now if a data center crashed, then there would be big shifts of load.  That has little to do with the cloud per se.



paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 4:51:45 PM
re: Cloud Could Face Network Bottlenecks


The thing is let's say we walk you over to my location.  I have a 100 Mb/s fiber optic link connected my office.  I am a cloud service provider (albeit a very small one).

Really the question is do I run a Layer 2 connection out this 100 Mb/s pipe or a Layer 3 one or mixture of the two.

The reality is that I have a Layer 2 connection to one of my data centers and my data centers are all dual homed on Layer 3 connections.  I have a Layer 3 VPN between the data centers.  The backup to my Fiber Optic connection is a wireless broadband layer 3 connection.

In the past, we had a 100 Mb/s Layer 3 connection as our primary connection.  The downside of that was that it was hard to figure of what was going on if there was route flapping in "The Internet". 

In terms of the way I would buy services at something like AWS the bandwidth is bought out of an AWS pool.  I would connect generally over layer 3.  All of that is dynamic.

Which is why I keep asking about this?  I am befuddled by what they are talking about solving.



joferrei 12/5/2012 | 4:51:45 PM
re: Cloud Could Face Network Bottlenecks

Agreed that it does not make sense for the physical network owner to keep bandwidth 'unused', or in a reserve for on-demand use. As soon as some one is willing to make a contract to buy physical layer capacity services, I'd sell if the price exceeds the costs (incl opportunity costs).

However, for the 'cloud' applications, the contracts for network capacity services should rather be for a pool of bandwidth to interconnect the given customer's sites (eg data centers and NAPs of an ASP), rather than fixed point to point circuits. The demand for bandwidth among such customer sites will be increasingly dynamic and unpredictable, and accordingly the bandwidth allocation among the sites connected by a given bandwidth pool contract should be demand driven. 

(Ideally also the total bandwidth pool volume and reach per a contract should be more flexible, so there should be 'pools of pools', but that concept probably still needs to further development commercially as well as technically.)

^Eagle^ 12/5/2012 | 4:51:43 PM
re: Cloud Could Face Network Bottlenecks

Northern, VPN's are layer 3/4 functions.  There is no mechanism for layer 1 VPN's.  Remember, layer 1 is the physical layer transport.

There is no mechanism to dynamically call up more physical transport bandwidth unless such bandwidth is already provisioned and standing by idle ready to be throttled up.  Such over provisioning has to be paid for by someone.  Who would that be?

in many corporate environments, the corporation buys a network connection that is more than they need at most times just to give the edge routers / switches just such possibility for the times when users need more.  

but corporations are increasingly trying to reduce costs and are resistant to overprovisioning.  Unless they are wall street trading houses.


^Eagle^ 12/5/2012 | 4:51:42 PM
re: Cloud Could Face Network Bottlenecks

I am fully aware of SONET/SDH standards and performance.  I was one of the very first member of the Sonet Interoperability Forum and helped write the specs.  UPSR, BLSR, etc.

today, there is no real such thing as Layer 1 on demand in a "cloudy" world.  Yes, there are overprovisioned protected paths, rings and mesh.  but those are all bought and paid for with people paying for the over provisioning and redundancy.

VPN's are not a layer 1 function.  A long time for that to happen.  

And yes, I am fully aware of the work being done on "wavelengths on demand.

to do that, there are lots of architechtural changes that need to be implemented.  ROADMs help, but only in so much as they can add or drop wavelenghts that ARE ALREADY THERE.  There is no majic bullet for layer 1.  You have to massively overbuild to really have excess capacity that can be sent anywhere at any time.

And remember, all transmission at root is analog.  To really do wavelength on demand you either need complete electrical regeneration at every node (what infinera advocates) WITH overprovisioning of lots of spare capacity, OR you need fully deployed at every node dynamic gain equalization, dynamic dispersion compensation, colorless hitless directionless ROADMs, no static muxes, and a systemic network wide control plane.  Not to mention fully embedded monitoring at every node that looks down into the wavelength level performance.

So yes, folks are working on this.  And yes, we are getting closer.  But it is still a ways off.  And no one working at layer 1 for flexible network architechtures is doing it to enable bandwidth unlimited VPNs at layer 1.  

They are doing it to have lower opex costs at the transport layer

VPNs are uniqely layer 2 or layer 3 beasts at least for the foreseable future.

down the road, who knows.  But for now, not really possible without a massive investment in infrastructure.  Which no one has figured out a business model to justify and pay for.


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