One of the largest hurdles for businesses is to move their computer infrastructure to the cloud — essentially moving their servers to data centers — has been the speed and reliability of the Internet connections serving their offices. Users are accustomed to connectivity that is generally 1 gigabit per second (gb/s) or 1,000 megabit per second (mb/s). Even when users go to WiFi connections that are rated in the 100 mb/s range, they notice a speed decrease to critical services, especially transnational programs like database servers. Internet connections to businesses averaged 10 mb/s in March 2011 according to a recent FCC report. The new average download connection speed is now 31 mb/s with tiers offered up to 100 mb/s or more.
To overcome this, most cloud service providers have been offering hybrid solutions to cloud data and services. For example, rather than direct connection to file servers, the data is synchronized between the file server and local desktops. This allowed quick access to the files from a user’s point of view and changes were sync’d in the background. This brought a host of other issues, such as having to have enough storage for all the data on individual desktops. For companies with small storage requirements (100 GB or less of data), this did not pose any adverse risks. On the other hand, larger organizations store much more data and it did not make sense, nor were computers capable, to replicate all that data to every workstation.
Another solution is to offer remote desktop services or virtual workstations. This solved the data replication issues, but also brought in other issues. Common tasks, like plugging in a iPhone to sync iTunes or scanning from the office copier to a desktop, became difficult. There are solutions to these issues, but it created a complicated IT environment. The concept of the cloud was to reduce the complexity of technology, not increase it.
Now that Internet connection speeds are moving closer to actual local area network (LAN) speeds, the need for these complex virtual desktop and synchronization technologies become less and less. If connection speeds continue to increase as fast as they have in the last 4 years, according to the FCC, cloud services will become much more simple to deploy. Having a server hosted in a data center will provide the same experience to users as having it in the office next door. The server will be protected in a data center with high-availability technologies, the company will not have to outlay capital expenses every few years to upgrade and maintain hardware, and the users will have the same or better experience. Technology is finally catching up with cloud computing’s promises.