Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Staying Out of the Clouds

"So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way"
- Joni Mitchell

Clouds are popular in information technology, even in the sunny Southwest. Cloud computing always seems to be in the news these days. Network clouds are seen on every whiteboard and in every PowerPoint presentation. So why would anyone want to avoid flying in the clouds?

To understand that, we need to take a closer look at what's inside those clouds. The cloud symbol, a big fluffy cumulus, has become the standard representation for a large or complex network whose inner workings we don't really need to understand to make use of it. You might remember a cartoon or T-shirt with lots of equations and a cloud with the legend, "here a miracle occurs."

For many users, the miracle of the cloud suits them just fine. Data goes into the cloud, data comes out. As long as everything is working, one cloud is just as good as another. Right?

One company that doesn't think so is American Fiber Systems, Inc. David G. Rusin, president and CEO, takes issue with the "magical cloud" in his white paper, "Clearing up all that is Cloudy." In particular, he takes issue with the idea that Internet clouds are a commodity with similar levels of integrity, presence, reliability and delivery. The same thinking can be extended to point to point and multipoint private networks. Once you draw that cloud on the board, it really doesn't matter who you buy it from. Or does it?

The most obvious differentiator in cloud networks is bandwidth. "Broadband" is one of those loose definitions that bears some looking into. Did you know that the FCC defines broadband as starting at a mere 200 kbps? Few businesses users would consider 200 kbps as being a broadband connection when they are used to T1 lines at 1.5 Mbps and Ethernet at even higher speeds. Even mobile networks are rapidly being upgraded to speeds that are more like 10x that entry level broadband definition.

Bandwidth also has a consistency factor. If you have a dedicated Internet service, you can expect that you'll always have access at the bandwidth you are leasing. But if you are trying to get by with an "information service", such as DSL or Cable broadband, you may find that the speed of your connection varies during the day. That's because these services are oversubscribed to keep the price down and you only get the max speed when there are few other users. When things get busy, you all have to share whatever backbone bandwidth the provider is supplying to the multiplexing equipment.

If you really want to draw a cloud and not worry about it, you need the virtually unlimited bandwidth that comes with fiber optic networks. But all fiber networks aren't the same, either. American Fiber Systems owns and operates metropolitan fiber optic networks in nine cities, including Atlanta, Boise, Cleveland, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Nashville, Reno and Salt Lake City. By owning the network rather than leasing parts of it from other vendors including the telephone companies, American Fiber Systems can commit to bandwidth, delivery, redundancy and service reliability and make good on those commitments.

What services are available? Transport services from DS1 to OC192 including Virtual Private Lines (VPL) and Virtual Local Area Networks (VLAN), Optical Ethernet from 5 Mbps to GigE or 1 Gbps, Metro Wavelength service with 2.5G and 10G waves, Dark Fiber connected right to your building, and dedicated Internet access in addition to metro connections.

Would your business benefit from high reliability fiber optic bandwidth that you can count on? Our GeoQuote (tm) Ethernet service locator can help you find the best deals for your location from American Fiber Systems and other high quality carriers. Doesn't cost anything to look and only takes a few seconds, so go ahead and see what's available near you.

Click to check pricing and features or get support from a Telarus product specialist.

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