Where is my cloud?

Pixies anyone?

When you use applications on your PC at work in most cases (depending on when you read this) the server component of those applications will be sitting inside your company’s datacenter. A small but growing number of users don’t get all applications from inside their own datacenters but use externally hosted ones in the public cloud. Those applications are delivered as a service across the Internet to your PC, hence Software as a Service or SaaS.

The difference of course being that your IT department tightly controls what happens inside your datacenter and that it is likely to be very close to you as the user of the application, if not, your IT department can alleviate the distance problem (latency makes applications slow) by using WAN optimization.

Recently Google published a video that gives a peek inside one of their datacenters.

Notice something about those servers? They don’t belong to your company do they? And I’m betting you don’t live near that particular datacenter either.

So not having any say about what is installed at the Google datacenter and having lot’s of distance (latency) between your PC and the server powering your application can be a performance nightmare. Latency makes or breaks a SaaS application.
Microsoft also has this rather nice video about their cloud services, it even starts by asking “where is the Microsoft Cloud?”

Obsessed with performance Riverbed has figured out how to accelerate these SaaS applications so you don’t kill the productivity of the average business user who has to use the application every day.

Riverbed, in partnership with Akamai, is delivering SaaS acceleration via our Steelhead Cloud Accelerator (CSA) solution.

We use the Akamai network to find an Akamai server as close as possible to the datacenter powering your SaaS application and spin up a Cloud Steelhead system to provide symmetrical WAN acceleration.

Since you need to traverse the Internet when finding your way to the datacenter hosting your SaaS application there is a good possibility of not having the most efficient route from your PC to the server powering your app. Hence we also use Akamai SureRoute which triplicates the first packet going out to the datacenter and then chooses the path with the fastest round trip response so you not only have a steelhead very close to the datacenter, you now also have the fastest path across the Internet.

The video below shows the actual results of using this technology at Interop 2012 in New York.

 

So how do you go about enabling this technology? For my next post I’ll walk you through it step by step.

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