Comcast Business: How Ethernet helps businesses realize cloud computing potential Featured

4:00pm EDT October 31, 2013
Kevin Conmy, Regional vice president, Business Services, Comcast Business Kevin Conmy, Regional vice president, Business Services, Comcast Business

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The growing prevalence of cloud computing has driven astronomical growth in the amount of data center traffic passing through networks. A 2011 survey projects this traffic to hit 468 Exabytes in 2016. To put that in context, worldwide Internet traffic surpassed one Exabyte for the first time in 2003.

The fuel behind this widespread adoption is cloud computing’s cost-effectiveness. With a “pay only for what you use” pricing structure, midsize companies can ramp up or down with minimal startup costs. In addition, there are tax benefits to having cloud computing as an operating expense, rather than a capital expenditure.

However, one factor stands in the way for many businesses — an outdated network infrastructure that is unable to operate efficiently using cloud-based systems.

Smart Business spoke with Kevin Conmy, regional vice president, Business Services, at Comcast Business, about how businesses can use Ethernet to maximize cloud computing, and the competitive advantage it brings.

Why are some companies unable or slow to take full advantage of the cloud’s potential?

The first hurdle to get over is the trust factor. Business owners are hesitant to hand over sensitive information and transactions to a third party. But as the use of cloud applications becomes widespread and the ease of the applications themselves make them harder to resist, more and more companies are jumping on board.

The second obstacle is often the company’s network and whether they are using the public Internet or a private Ethernet.

While a public Internet service is cost-effective and accessible from just about anywhere, the flipside to that is increased security risks that are a very credible concern.

Latency — the time it takes for data to make a round trip between two points, such as from your office to the data center where the cloud application is hosted and back — is another problem when using a public connection. Some applications, such as email, can tolerate longer latency, but others like video, are latency-intolerant.

How is private connectivity, Ethernet, better matched to cloud services?

For mission-critical applications hosted at a data center or cloud provider, private connectivity provides secure, high availability and low-latency access.

Ethernet technology, which has been around for 40 years, has become the de facto technology in offices around the world, linking computers and servers together in a high-speed local area network (LAN). A metropolitan area network (MAN) can link computers over a larger area, like between buildings in a metro area, with low latency.

One service provider manages the Ethernet traffic and applications within the private network, resulting in better security and performance. Companies still have the ability to integrate Internet traffic, but the low latency causes remote offices, and even those applications hosted in third-party data centers, to feel like they are on the LAN.

Data centers and cloud providers generally don’t provide dedicated network infrastructure with their cloud offerings, but they are reporting that clients are increasingly purchasing dedicated high-speed fiber connections from separate service providers for accessing these cloud services.

Do businesses leaders understand how important it is to have the right network services?

A recent CIO/Computerworld survey found that 70 percent of IT executives considered reliable, high-capacity bandwidth as a transformational or strategic asset, up from 42 percent two years ago. The majority of respondents believe high-performance connectivity increases productivity and efficiency. It’s clear that business owners increasingly view high-performance network services as a prerequisite for future growth.

Kevin Conmy is a regional vice president of Business Services at Comcast Business. Reach him at (215) 642-6457 or kevin_conmy@cable.comcast.com.

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