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September 06, 2011

ITEXPO West Interview: The Growth of Cloud Computing

The technology and telecommunications spaces have evolved considerably over the last several years and specific trends are fueling these changes. In anticipation of the upcoming ITEXPO (News - Alert) West event in Austin and the collocated event MSPWorld, TMCnet’s Rich Tehrani recently spoke with John Freimuth, Vice President of Managed Hosting and Cloud Computing at Internap (News - Alert). Freimuth noted that over the past year, Internap has experienced a market increase in the volume of data and video content traversing its networks. Customers are also trying to reduce their data center footprint, and are showing interest and uptake in cloud computing.

As for the next disruptive force in technology, Freimuth pointed to the Internet being used for multicasting of rich media content in live and on-demand scenarios and the fact that user expectations have gone through the roof. The adoption of the cloud is driving users to evaluate their options and enterprise IT is learning how to embrace this shift. Customers are increasingly looking for improved performance in every element of data delivery. Social media have changed how people expect to interact with their partners from a support perspective.

To support mobility, Internap is providing high-performance IT infrastructure services to enable end-users to experience a quality content experience regardless of location. As for HTML5, Internap is fully supportive of movements toward richer experience on the Web and if HTML5 is the right step in this direction, the company is on board. His first time at the ITEXPO, Freimuth is excited to connect with prospective customers and industry peers. At the event, Internap will be addressing the issues surrounding the unexpected costs that arise when IT departments focus their performance related concerns on intra-cloud performance and reliability.

Their entire conversation follows:

1.      How has your market segment evolved over the past year and what trends have fueled those changes?

Internap provides customers across a broad range of industries with intelligent IT infrastructure services, including enterprise IP, CDN, colocation, managed hosting and cloud services, which deliver unparalleled levels of performance, availability and support. Over the past year, we’ve experienced a market increase in the volume of data and video content traversing our networks, which is in line with the rest of the industry. This increase in traffic puts tremendous pressure on businesses of all kinds who need to meet end-user demand for timely, quality content delivery, while simultaneously keeping associated costs low. Internap is meeting that need and exceeding expectations for our customers by deploying our unique multi-homing and patented route optimization technology --Managed Internet Route Optimizer™ (MIRO ) – across our product line. MIRO dynamically directs traffic over redundant, high-speed connections using the best performing Internet route available at the time to ensure a fast, quality experience for end-users with minimal latency and no downtime– a stark alternative to the manual route selection approach many other solution providers employ for moving data between locations.

Additionally, we’ve seen more of our customers looking to accomplish the tricky task of reducing their datacenter footprint (to reduce costs) while still meeting demand for increased capacity. This is forcing managed hosting and colocation providers to evaluate methods for reducing space and energy consumption in the data center, with the goal of reducing costs to the end-user. At Internap, we are leading this movement by embracing “green” best practices to reduce energy consumption in our company-owned colocation facilities through the use of reclaimed water, purchase of renewable energy and installation of energy efficient equipment. As a result of these investments, Internap expects to see a three to five year payback in savings that can be passed along to customers and reduce long-term energy requirements. In fact, in June, Internap’s Santa Clara datacenter, became the first public data center to achieve Green Globes certification for the design and construction of an environmentally sustainable commercial building. 

And of course, we’ve seen tremendous interest and uptake from enterprise customers in cloud computing – whether private cloud, public cloud or hybrid cloud – for their storage, hosting and computing needs. Given our pedigree in managed hosting, CDN, enterprise IP and colocation services, it was only natural for Internap to combine our expertise in these sectors to offer cloud services, and so in 2011, we introduced the industry’s firstpublic cloud storage solution built on the OpenStack platform and also announced a high-performance, dual-hypervisor cloud compute service coming in Q3 that enables enterprise IT to future-proof cloud investments with the ability to choose VMware hypervisor for enterprise-class features and reliability or open source hypervisors for superior cost profiles.  

2.      What do you see as the next disruptive force in technology and how will it impact your market or business?

The Internet was originally conceived of as a point-to-point, unicast distribution mechanism, but it is increasingly being used for multicasting of rich media content in both live and on-demand scenarios. Consumers are eating up this content anytime, anywhere, on any device model, thanks to improvements in live and on-demand broadcasting over fixed and mobile networks, and availability of next-generation end-user devices like mobile phones and tablets. With this shift, end-user expectations have gone through the roof – they expect rich content delivered with minimal latency and peak application performance in every instance. These new expectations around service delivery are driving content providers to adopt new networking, storage and content distribution models to optimize performance and meet global delivery requirements. We are increasingly seeing customers turn to the cloud as a legitimate application production platform to optimize for performance and global delivery.

3.      How has the acceptance and adoption of the cloud model influenced your development cycle and process?

Cloud computing has definitely arrived, and enterprise IT departments are evaluating their options. The promise of the cloud—the ability to turn-on and turn-up applications and services in a public, private or hybrid cloud without the cost and complexity of manual updates, infrastructure build-out and resource planning—requires a fundamental shift in the way IT organizations operate.   

And while enterprise IT is busy learning how to embrace this shift, it must still remain committed to delivering high-performing IT services with minimal disruption. To ease this transition, Internap has incorporated fully-redundant connectivity along with our powerful and proven MIRO technology into our cloud solutions – Private Cloud, Cloud Storage and Public Cloud – providing application acceleration that ensures the best end-user experience with minimal packet loss, latency and downtime.

Our public cloud computing services will enable enterprise IT to future-proof cloud investments with the ability to choose VMware hypervisors for enterprise-class features and reliability, or open source hypervisors for superior cost profiles. This allows our customers to transition from one cloud platform to another as priorities and business needs shift over time. Internap also offers a convenient, “pay-as-you-go” web-based cloud storage service—based on the OpenStack open source cloud platform—that features on-demand provisioning and scaling of computing capacity to meet changing demands for web resources and applications.

4.      What is the most common request you are seeing from your customers? How is your company addressing these demands?

No industry is immune to the fallout when customers experience network jitter, latency and downtime. Across our entire customer base – from gaming to retail to finance to houses of worship – customers are looking for improved performance in every aspect of data delivery, as a delay of even a few milliseconds can have a direct impact on customer loyalty and revenue. As a result, we’ve incorporated our Accelerated IP (XIP™) service – which provides fully-redundant connectivity and content acceleration -- along with MIRO technology into our CDN and Enterprise IP services.

When it comes to the cloud, our customers want to know whether a public, private or hybrid cloud is right for them, and which service would help them to provide a quality end-user experience with minimal latency and downtime. Selecting the ideal cloud model requires analysis regarding the level of control, security customization and support our customer’s organization needs. Once determined, we are able to provide our customers with the broadest range of IT deployment platforms from scalable colocation and flexible managed hosting services to private and public cloud, all under-pinned by best-in-class performance technologies. 

5.      How is the continued growth of social media changing service and product development strategies?

Social media have changed how people expect to interact with their partners from a support perspective. First, customers are more willing to engage in peer-to-peer relationships (forums, bulletin boards, Twitter (News - Alert), etc.). Second, customers expect a more real-time interactive online support experience (e.g., chat).

6.      As businesses continue their move toward virtual workforces, how are you meeting the need for increased mobility?  What barriers are keeping others from adopting mobile strategies?

Internap is in the business of providing high-performance IT infrastructure services that enable end-users to experience a quality content experience wherever they are located, whether they are working, gaming, learning, banking, shopping or socializing. For example, our XIP-powered CDN service accelerates delivery of video streaming and web content to a wide range of end-user devices, including mobile phones, tablets and PCs, resulting in up to four times faster streaming and downloads. It also accelerates content delivery across a greater number of network layers than traditional CDNs, resulting in a notable and immediate performance improvement, with first-frame delivery and faster progressive downloads as well as reduced buffering and fewer frame drops.

7.      How do you see the mobile operating system war (iPhone (News - Alert) vs. Android vs. RIM vs. WM7) playing out?

I expect competition to remain fierce in the handset market to provide the most phone for the least amount of money, and this is in the best interest of the consumer. Regardless of who wins, Internap will continue to provide quality connectivity and content delivery regardless of the operating system or associated technology. 

8.      Is HTML5 the game changer many predict it will be?

We’re fully supportive of movements toward providing richer user experiences over the web. HTML5 may be a step in this direction. Regardless of what happens with HTML5, Internap will continue to provide quality connectivity and content delivery regardless of the browser technology. 

9.      What are you most looking forward to at ITEXPO West in Austin? What do you see as being the biggest trends at the show?

This is our first time at ITEXPO, and we are very excited to connect with prospective customers and industry peers. I’m specifically looking forward to learning more about how IT organizations of varying sizes are leveraging public and private cloud technologies, and what barriers might be preventing organizations from more widely adopting cloud services. I’d also like to gain insight from business users that have experienced network latency issues that have adversely impacted their business, and I’d like to understand the emerging security and compliance concerns of enterprise IT.

In terms of what appear to be the biggest trends at the show, from what I’ve seen and heard so far, it seems that conversation around cloud computing, social media and mobile connectivity will dominate this year’s show.

10. What issues will you be addressing during your ITEXPO session and why should attendees be sure to attend?

Across IT organizations, there is strong interest in deploying applications in a cloud environment to achieve increased business flexibility and cost savings. However, common cloud computing solutions can introduce unexpected costs when IT departments focus their performance related concerns on intra-cloud performance and reliability when constructing their cloud models, rather than the issues of performance and reliability of the overall application and content delivery chain from the cloud environment to the end-user.

During the presentation, scheduled for Wednesday, September 14 from 1-1:45 pm, my colleague John Considine of CloudSwitch and I will address the issue from all sides. We’ll review why end-user requirements or demands must take precedence in assessments of cloud computing environments and their usage for any application deployment that is business critical or revenue centric. We’ll discuss how IT organizations can effectively calculate overall cloud service latency, and provide tips for careful evaluation and testing of cloud provider SLAs. We’ll also address the key technology and service features IT managers should look for when selecting a cloud service provider to ensure comprehensive performance and reliability that meets both internal and end-user needs.

To find out more about JOHN FREIMUTH and INTERNAP, visit the company at ITEXPO West 2011. To be held Sept. 13-15 in Austin, TX, ITEXPO is the world’s premier IP communications event. JOHN FREIMUTH is speaking during “Overcoming Latency: The Achilles Heel of Cloud Computing.” Don’t wait. Register now.

Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO… follow us on Twitter.


Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves
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