Don’t Forget the Bandwidth when Planning Cloud, IoT Projects
It’s no secret businesses are becoming more and more cloud-dependent as they move workloads away from the network core to a cloud infrastructure. The reasons for this are well understood: The cloud delivers scalability and elasticity more cost-effectively than you can get by expanding your in-house network.
So we are seeing companies move not just minor temporary projects to the cloud, but also critical workloads essential to running the business. This pattern may continue far into the future as networks evolve into hybrids, with some legacy assets being kept in-house while others are shifted to the cloud to provide a business with greater agility.
As telecom agents and data solution providers help customers with cloud implementations, the tendency typically is to focus on the outcome. That is as it should be, but focusing on the outcome without considering exactly how to get there can spell disaster.
Often overlooked in cloud-enablement projects is the bandwidth required to run the solution. Be it a web-based CRM application, a server virtualization project or the implementation of a cloud-based storage system, any shift of computing resources must take bandwidth requirements into account. As a provider, ignore this at your own peril. If the implementation falls short of producing the desired results, the customer is likely to blame you.
Bandwidth often is treated as an afterthought, which can cause a project to come to a screeching halt. It’s as if people start taking connectivity for granted and forget that you can’t just flip a switch when moving assets to a cloud infrastructure.
Whatever the project is, take the time to discuss bandwidth needs with your clients. Review how much capacity is already in place, how much more is needed, and how much cost it will add to the project. This applies not only to cloud projects, but also to digital transformation and Internet of Things (IoT) implementations that so many companies are gearing up for.
Especially when we’re talking about the IoT, it’s crucial to do the preparation work to come up with the right architecture and plan for bandwidth capacity. In discussing this with clients, it’s wise to advise them to provision for the maximum capacity they will need to avoid latency and performance issues when users try to access business-critical applications.
That is not to say you should be pushing clients to buy extra capacity for no good reason, but rather to plan accordingly. If you partner with the right connectivity service provider, you can tailor the service to dial bandwidth capacity up and down as needed.
Many businesses have fluctuating bandwidth needs. For instance, retailers require added capacity during the holiday shopping season and in the summer for back-to-school sales. Accountants need to scale up during tax-filing season. And the same is true for sporting events such as the Super Bowl, the NASCAR season, the Olympics and the World Cup. If your clients experience seasonal fluctuations, you really can’t ignore that.
As some organizations have discovered the hard way, transferring workloads to the cloud without addressing bandwidth requirements can turn a project that was supposed to bring improvements into a source of frustration. Performance issues will cause management to question why they agreed to make the move in the first place and users to groan about sluggish applications and web pages.
To avoid this scenario, providers need to get customers to agree to first assess existing capabilities and calculate new bandwidth demands. Look at each application’s data requirements, especially the new assets beyond deployed in the cloud. The assessment should cover not only the overall network but also each department and branch to make sure nothing is overlooked.
After you complete the assessment and get ready to turn on new cloud services, consult with the connectivity provider to perform a test. This will be the final check on whether the network can handle any added bandwidth requirements. It also may help prevent problems that can cause clients to go sour an implementation. So, as clients prepare for new cloud and IoT projects, don’t overlook the bandwidth discussion. Mention it upfront, and you potentially will save yourself and the client some trouble.
Craig Schlagbaum is Vice President of Indirect Channels at Comcast Business.
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