Cloud computing is the current ‘buzzword’ in the industry, exciting in premise, but still in its infancy and awash with ambiguities.
For some years we’ve been successfully delivering Layer-2 private wide area networks to our customers using our PWAN technology, and could see the progression from this to cloud-based environments. Our imminent office move has given us the opportunity to put these ideas into practice.
I am writing this article at my desk in the office. The actual machine is virtual (ie not installed on my local PC), residing in one of our datacentres. And that is not all - so is everything my virtual PC talks to such as Exchange, SQL and our intranet.
By using the PWAN technology, moving the firewall into the cloud was the first step so that our offices (just opened another outside of London) could communicate on private IP to the datacentres without a VPN (Layer 2). This then meant that office servers could be moved and accessed from the datacentre. IP addressing, Active Directory, DNS etc all now reside in the datacentre and serve our local networks through the PWAN. We then went through the process of virtualising the desktops to VMware’s excellent ESX product, so that each desktop is still independent to the other and accessed via the Remote Desktop application.
We’re left with the latest Windows 7 software on our existing PCs, with the flexibility to hot desk to any PC in either of our offices, or anywhere in the world via a VPN to the PWAN. And because the majority of traffic is only mouse clicks, keyboard strokes and screen refreshes, our usage of the network has actually dropped.
We will continue to adapt the virtual network, but with the flexibility of our new hosted environment there is an infinite amount of customisation possible. I am sure more businesses will follow our lead when they realise how easily it can be implemented.