Cloud Computing Viewpoint
Regional Cloud Computing Providers
Buy Local with a “Cloud Franchise”
By: Alan Murphy
Jul. 20, 2009 07:00 PM
One of the oft discussed business challenges of cloud-based application deployments – or any remote app deployment where a service has to communicate over the public internet – is latency. It takes more time to fetch data when a request has to leave the LAN, and latency is usually variable and at the mercy of both the Interwebs and the cloud provider. This isn’t so much of an issue when your entire app is deployed in the cloud and users are going directly there for data; the user won’t notice any difference between accessing your app after it’s moved to AWS than they did when you had it deployed in your own data center. In fact some times it might even be faster.
The latency monster rears its ugly head when apps are spread across data centers, either in a split architecture or with bursting, where the user is first directed to your local data center and then a decision is made to move that request (and possibly that entire user session) to the cloud portion of the app. Solutions exist today to help optimize the applications and the network to provide a better user experience, but there’s a new(er) trend that’s not getting much attention to help combat geographic latency: regional cloud providers.Regional cloud providers are exactly as the name suggests: providers that offer cloud services close to your physical data center. Think of these providers as “buy local” clouds. Today these providers offer local cloud hosting services that compete with the larger players, such as Amazon and RackSpace, with local knowledge and local support.
But what about a hybrid model, the Cloud Franchise: local owners and operators that offer local cloud services but also offer branch versions of the larger cloud options. Some of this model exists in the platform levels today, in fact there is a thriving marketplace for start-ups who are offering AWS-based solutions, pre-packaged and ready to go. But those solutions, once deployed, still run in AWS data centers (although AWS doesn’t publish this information, their US data centers are rumored to be located on the East Coast). If I have latency concerns about bouncing my users from one part of my app in my private Missoula data center to another part of my app located in Baltimore, then a pre-packaged AWS solution won’t really help me with that. I want all parts of my app to be as local as possible, especially when I need to burst into or direct users to the cloud.
That’s where the cloud franchise model comes into play: regional cloud providers can offer pre-packaged AWS services as well as be a branded AWS hoster, hosting those deployed services in a local data center rather than in Baltimore. The customer is still using AWS and has access to 100% of the AWS products and features, but the end result – the hosted application — is running on an AWS platform in Missoula instead of Baltimore, run by the local provider.
AWS is just one type of architecture: Azure is another place where the cloud franchise architecture could come into play. If I write my .Net app to span between both my local data center and an Azure cloud, I want to make sure that I have the shortest path in place between my data center and where my app is actually running in the Azure cloud. Mainstreet is going to perform so much better if it only has two hops between my local DC and Azure, both in Missoula, than if it has to bounce over multiple providers to cross the country to one centralized data center in Dallas.
At the end of the day the goal is to reduce latency between my data center and my public cloud. The more I can control in my user’s experience the more likely I am to deploy into the cloud, especially for latency-sensitive apps such as VDI. One way to control access to the my cloud apps is to control location: buy local from a regional cloud provider who is also a cloud franchisee. Use the services and products of a trusted brand (AWS, Azure, etc) with local hosting, management, and support, and keep the apps local.
It works for fast food, why not the cloud?
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