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Research Tackles Cloud-to-Cloud Networking

Scientists from three companies have combined to tackle the problem of cloud-to-cloud networking, emerging with technology that speeds up connection time from days to seconds.

The research that resulted in "breakthrough elastic cloud-to-cloud networking" technology was sponsored by the U.S. government's DARPA CORONET program, which studies rapid reconfiguration of terabit networks.

The cloud computing revolution has greatly changed the way organizations access applications, resources and data with a new dynamic provisioning model that increases automation and lowers operational costs. However, experts said in an announcement, "The traditional cloud-to-cloud network is static, and creating it is labor-intensive, expensive and time-consuming."

That was the problem addressed by scientists from AT&T, IBM and Applied Communication Sciences (ACS). Yesterday they announced proof-of-concept technology described as "a major step forward that could one day lead to sub-second provisioning time with IP and next-generation optical networking equipment, [enabling] elastic bandwidth between clouds at high-connection request rates using intelligent cloud datacenter orchestrators, instead of requiring static provisioning for peak demand."

The prototype -- which uses advanced software-defined networking (SDN) concepts, combined with cost-efficient networking routing in a carrier network scenario -- was implemented on the open source OpenStack cloud computing platform that accommodates public and private clouds. It elastically provisioned WAN connectivity and placed VMs between two clouds in order to load balance virtual network functions.

According to an IBM Research exec, the prototype provides technology that the partnership now wants to provide commercially in the form of a cloud system that monitors a network and automatically scales up and down as needed by applications. A cloud datacenter will send a signal to a network controller describing bandwidth needs, said Douglas M. Freimuth, and IBM's orchestration expertise comes into play by knowing when and how much bandwidth to request among which clouds.

Today, Freimuth noted, a truck has to be sent out to set up new network components while administrators handle WAN connectivity, which requires physical equipment to be installed and configured. By using cloud intelligence to requisition bandwidth from pools of network connectivity when it's needed by an application, this physically intensive process could be done virtually. Setting up cloud-to-cloud networks could be done in seconds rather than days, he said.

The innovation means organizations will spend less because they more effectively share network resources through virtualized hardware, and operating costs are reduced by cloud-controlled automated processes, among other benefits, Freimuth said.

"For you and me, as individuals, more dynamic cloud computing means new applications we never dreamed could be delivered over a network -- or applications we haven't even dreamed of yet," Freimuth concluded.

Posted by David Ramel on 07/30/2014 at 2:09 PM


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