Keeping Up with the Cloud

March 23, 2010 Appirio

Cisco, Carriers, and the FCC Invest in Broadband

Mark Koenig
Last week, in the middle of discussing cloud migration strategy with one of our clients, a Systems Director asked “If everyone is moving to the cloud eventually, won’t the Internet come crawling to a stop?”

Well the conversation crawled to a stop long enough to remind me why – in an effort to try to slow cloud computing adoption – many cloud detractors (and I wouldn’t count my smart client among them, he is just doing his due diligence) are predicting Internet traffic jams of major proportions. We tend to take high-speed broadband for granted today, but many of us have memories of the days not so very long ago when accessing the Internet could be an hours-long ordeal, and then when finally connected, the transfer speeds were really really really slow. No one wants to go back to those days, especially when it comes to critical business applications. Such predictions of doom and gloom can be very effective. Fortunately, its very unlikely that the detractors are correct.

Last week we observed that the the largest cloud solution providers are investing billions of dollars to build data centers to run their cloud-based applications. As it turns out, they are not the only ones investing in cloud computing: billions of dollars are being also invested to build the next generation Internet. This means that when we talk about who is going to help address this fundamental bridge to cloud computing, there are many involved. Let’s look at three:

Cisco: Though many people yawned when their big game-changing announcement earlier this month turned out to be a router, Cisco’s new CRS-3 Carrier Routing System is about as exciting as it gets when you are talking about plumbing. The new router is designed specifically to handle the additional demands of scale and load-balancing required by cloud computing. With regard to scale, consider that the CRS-3 has enough capacity (322-terabits) to handle simultaneous video calls by every person in China. And the router is designed to handle the type of multi-directional traffic generated by VOIP-enabled web conferencing and video chat, applications that are central to the success of collaboration services such as Cisco WebEx or Google Apps, which added video conferencing to its service this year.

Carriers: In 2008, with the purchase of billions of dollars of 700MHz of wireless spectrum, carriers – and in particular Verizon and AT&T, the big winners at the auction – began preparing for an exponential increase in data passing over their networks. Handling voice traffic has become a commodity, and in their search for growth, carriers see data transmission as the golden egg, which means applications are the goose. And that means that all the investment and innovation is designed to encourage the adoption of applications that will generate the data traffic for their network. Consumers and businesses should start reaping the rewards of this investment by the middle of 2011 as 4G network capabilities become available.

The Federal Government: On the same day I was meeting with my client, the US Federal Communications Commission was announcing its National Broadband Plan, which will pour $15.5 billion dollars over the next 10 years into broadband deployment across the country. Among the goals of the plan are to deliver 1-Gbps service to public institutions such as hospitals, schools and government buildings in every US community by 2020, and to implement 100 Megabits per second (Mbps) broadband connections in 100 million (out of an estimated 114 million) American households within the same time frame. Additionally, there are plans to auction additional wireless spectrum as early as the first half of 2011.

Considered together, the scale of investment in broadband capacity and access by these players means that cloud solution providers will be building innovative new applications and services for consumers and businesses alike, without fear of lack of access to these services. Further, it should be noted that this level of investment only focuses on the US market, and that many analysts believe the US is lagging infrastructure buildout overseas. Should the FCC make moves to improve competitiveness in the US market – the chief criticism of the National Broadband Plan by those who believe it does not go far enough – then we shall see even more investment and innovation in this area.

In short, it appears that there will be plenty of broadband to support the growth of cloud computing. At Appirio, we can’t wait: we are building next generation applications for the next generation Internet now. And we are helping our clients map out their paths to the cloud.

How about you? Are concerns about broadband capacity slowing down your plans for cloud computing? Does the announcement of them National Broadband Plan mean you’ll accelerate your investment in the cloud? Let us know in the comments below.

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