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Dormain Drewitz

Three tricks to checking your data out of the clouds Hotel California

Call it a dirty little secret, but theres a line item in your public cloud HotelCaliforniabill that you may not be expecting: outbound bandwidth usage.

Cloud computings Hotel California situation isnt a big secret - the prices are generally published alongside other charges that may apply. And they make sense, given that cloud providers are just passing through some of the basic infrastructure costs, including bandwidth.

But plenty of cloud customers have had sticker shock at that first (or second, or third) bill from their cloud provider. Interestingly, many dont charge for moving the data INTO their cloud, but as my high school economics teacher reiterated many times: Theres no such thing as a free lunch.

While free is out of the question, prices for cloud services are only going in one direction: down. Amazon recently cut its price for reserved instances and Rackspace recently announce price cuts on bandwidth itself, favoring users who are pushing more data out of their cloud. These price cuts come regularly, reinforcing that cloud providers are in a position to pass on the benefits from economies of scale to their customers. Back to high school econ class: this increases consumer surplus

For every workload, there is a data reduction solution

Its great to see the gradual decline of cloud prices, as it reinforces the whole economic underpinning of cloud computing. But the fact remains that you do have to pay to move data out of the cloud. The best way to minimize that cost, however, depends on what type of workload you have running. 

1)   Running an internal app in the cloud? Try WAN optimization. Optimizing a WAN connection requires software at both ends of the connection think of it as dehydrating on the way in and then rehydrating on the way out. That means the best workload candidates are applications used by your employees. But it also sets you up for some very powerful data deduplication.

Riverbed Steelhead WAN optimization solutions typically reduce bandwidth utilization by 65-95% and its available on Amazon Web Services. You can take a virtual Steelhead appliance for a spin with this free trial. For a deeper dive on the topic of using WAN optimization in the cloud, I recommend this primer from Steve Riley.

2)   Running a public site or app in the cloud? Try an application delivery controller. Unlike WAN optimization, an application delivery controller (ADC) can optimize asymmetrically it is deployed in front of the web server tier of any web application. From there, the ADC intercepts inbound user requests manages them for more server efficiency and then applies various optimizations to the outbound responses, including compression. GreatSchools saw a 30-40% reduction in bandwidth usage by using Riverbed Stingray Traffic Manager software. The great thing about Stingray Traffic Manager is that it is very easy to deploy in the cloud - it is available as an Amazon Machine Image (AMI) and is supported on Joyent and Rackspace and many other cloud providers. You can also get started with a free developer edition.

3)   Using the cloud to store backups? Try a cloud storage gateway. Back-up volumes continue to grow, often faster than the price declines on storage media. That leads to back-up budget creep, when IT would rather be putting its budget towards something innovative and differentiated. Meanwhile, Amazons ultra low-cost Glacier service is looking more and more like the ideal place for data that needs to be in a deep freeze. Whether youre looking at Glacier or another cloud storage service, the outbound bandwidth charges will still need to be factored in if and when you need to restore some or all of that data.

The great thing about a cloud storage gateway, like Riverbed Whitewater, is it not only makes moving data into the cloud more efficient and secure (with deduplication, encryption, and integration with existing backup software), but recent backup jobs can often be restored from the appliance itself. With a local cache of 2 to 32TB, you may be able to avoid outbound bandwidth charges all together. (Learn how Pump Solutions Group is able to use Whitewater Cloud Storage Gateway to store backups in the cloud, restore more quickly, and save 20-30% of staff time.)

Whether youre already using the cloud for some of these types of workloads, or in the evaluation stages, make sure you are factoring in usage-based bandwidth charges. And know that you have options when it comes to managing your bandwidth usage options that come with a LOT of other benefits, like acceleration, scalability, and encryption.

In summary:

Workload

Solution

Data reduction

Internally used application

WAN Optimization

High

Externally (or internally, for that matter) used application

Application Delivery Controller

Medium

Backups

Cloud Storage Gateway

High

 

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Riverbed. WAN optimization for your network: Application acceleration, WAN bandwidth optimization, and IT consolidation. Riverbed is the IT performance company. WAN optimization solutions from Riverbed liberate businesses from common IT constraints by increasing application performance, enabling consolidation, and providing enterprise-wide network and application visibility – all while eliminating the need to increase bandwidth, storage or servers. Thousands of companies trust Riverbed to deliver greater productivity and cost savings by making their IT infrastructure faster, less expensive and more responsive. Riverbed solutions are also available as managed services through select providers.

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