Cloud computing networks: Architecture goes flat?

Vendors went wild marketing cloud computing network components and flat architecture in 2009, expecting enterprise hybrid cloud services to take off at rapid pace in coming years.

Vendors went wild in 2009 releasing cloud computing networking equipment.

Once upon a time, cloud computing was synonymous with Salesforce.com and Amazon, and was of little consequence to network engineers. Those days are over.

Analysts predict anywhere from 30% to 80% enterprise adoption of cloud computing in the next five years -- whether it be hosted applications and data, internal cloud build-out or a hybrid model of the two. If this holds true, networking teams will be largely responsible for implementation.

So networking vendors went hog-wild marketing "cloud computing network gear" in 2009. That largely translated to 10 GigE core and access switches that could directly connect in a 2-layer switching architecture (or flat network) with decentralized application servers throughout the network.

Among the most prominent releases in 2009 were Juniper's "New Network" cloud strategy that included the super-speed, programmable Trio chipset dropped into MX series switches along with new Junos Space application platforms. Cisco's Unified Computing System was the router king's cloud computing play (with a heavy focus on unified fabric for data center and storage integration, as well as new servers). Other less noted releases included Force 10's cloud computing data center core switches and Arista Networks access layer switches.

Of course, considering the myriad of security, policy and management issues involved with cloud computing, and the fact that the networking community shied away from flat network architecture in the past, some wonder if this tech shift could fizzle. NEXT: One technology grows up ...

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This was first published in December 2009

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