This post is the first in a series on Cloud Computing from the point of view of the network operator. We’ll provide an overview of the current cloudscape including the prominent players and their services. The series will wrap up with a discussion on bandwidth considerations for the network operator.
Desktop computing supported by the Local Area Network (LAN) has served business very well over the past couple of decades. The evolution of Ethernet has seen LAN speed and performance increase exponentially, while the adoption of IP has allowed us to internetwork LANs. This fundamental infrastructure hastened adoption of the World Wide Web – giving the human race access to infinite sources of knowledge, information, entertainment and social interaction. While it may seem hard to improve on such an incredible series of events, two related developments have exposed some constraints, and with them, opportunities.
The first is the progression in portability and mobility of end user devices. Laptop computers have become lighter and smaller while also becoming more computationally powerful and battery efficient. Today, the laptop shares the human productivity stage with smart phones and tablets. Clearly, device portability has become a fundamental user expectation.
The second is the profound evolution of cellular-based wireless network technology. First generation AMPS networks were launched as LANs were in their infancy. We now live in a 3G+ packet switched wireless world where data speeds on these networks rival landline data services of not too many years ago.
It is the portability of end user devices, combined with the performance and ubiquity of data networks, that has fueled the adoption of Cloud Computing. From a business perspective, the key driver is for many webcos (such as Google and Amazon) is to enhance their core offering through value added services in the cloud.