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How Does Cloud Computing Affect Network Administration?

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In traditional IT organizations, groups of network professionals are charged with managing the datacenter, a place where servers and other network devices are securely kept. These people are highly trained individuals that have very specialized knowledge deep inside the networks that most of us take for granted. When there are problems with these networks, they are the first responders, often keeping an emergency cell phone with them for such occasions.

Over the past few years a new trend has emerged in networking, and will take over for many of these smaller datacenters. Companies like Amazon, Google and Microsoft are providing managed services in behemoth datacenters for small and mid-sized businesses alike. Although many organizations are concerned about the potential security implications of this trend, known as cloud computing, the reality is that businesses looking to save cost on what is an increasingly expensive expertise will take the plunge.

As a result of this will arrive a change to an industry that has seen growth for many decades. But what does it mean for network administration? On the small business end, not good. Companies looking to save complexity and cost will look towards cloud solutions. As an example, many small organizations can opt to use Google Apps for their email and file hosting solutions for a small per user fee. This is much less expensive than Microsoft’s Exchange or IBM’s Lotus Notes.

But the impact on small businesses will actually trickle up to the larger organizations than offer managed services. The reality is that any business that will depend on a cloud-based solution expect there to be a high degree of network consistency. Because of this there will be a need not only for network engineers and administrators, but also those who specialize in network performance monitoring and management.

Network performance management could perhaps be considered a nascent field of work right now, but as networking growth continues down the path it is on these professionals will desperately be needed. Consider the fact that The Guardian last year calculated the amount of data on the internet has surpassed 500 billion gigabytes. The increased dependence on the internet for smartphones, video and voice over internet services will require a closer look at the interweaving mass of networks we rely on to live our lives today.

For businesses, network uptime is of very high importance. While managers don’t mind trying to save money on infrastructure costs by moving to cloud computing, they will spend top dollar to make sure that a network has continuous service. This may seem a bit conflicting but what one can save in purchasing network equipment such as servers, routers and switches can easily be spent making sure that managed cloud computing services have the right network monitoring.

Otherwise, these small to mid-sized businesses would have to shell out cash for the entire network cost, instead of sharing it with others. In the end, this is an ideal model to make sure the network capacity is properly used, not only in terms of cost but also other benefits such as reduced energy consumption.

Daniel Cawrey is a freelance tech writer. In addition to writing about network performance management topics, he also has a blog about Google’s impact on IT.

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