The Cloud And The Internet: An Uneasy Partnership
Long, long ago, Marc Benioff started a little company in San Francisco called Salesforce, and the Cloud had taken its first tentative baby steps into the world. As it grew, Salesforce famously proclaimed “Software is dead” with a giant logo of a triumphant cloud.
In 2011 another Marc- this time Andreessen– declared that software was “eating the world” in his now-famous op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal. He pinpointed the simple fact that technology was a fundamental, inseparable piece of our day-to-day lives. Software was no longer just an esoteric industry sub-vertical, being tracked only by stock markets, hedge-funds and investors. It had, over the course of the years, developed into a foundational component of business.
Andreessen underscored this multi-industry sea change by highlighting a number of examples of how software-driven business models had dominated and driven out the old stalwarts of their respective verticals. Google. Amazon. LinkedIn. Salesforce. These stories are now very well known. What is particularly striking about re-reading this article today is that although he used the generic term “software”, all his examples are evidence that it was really cloud software that was eating the world.
Both Marc and Marc’s assessments of the needs and the habits of the future customer were mostly true. Software isn’t dead, the application delivery is just through the cloud. And the world has not exactly been eaten by it either (although Skynet still lurks) but it is continuing to drive how we interact with our world, and with each other.
Even seven(!) years ago it was becoming clear that the cloud was creating a change in how we live and especially how we work– how we interact with coworkers, learn, teach, produce, consume, record, stream, share, collaborate, transact, and on and on… not just from our desk, but from anywhere.
In the meantime the tools we use to interact with technology as users and customers have also continued to evolve. We are increasingly multi-device (mostly mobile), consume increasingly larger amount of compute, storage and networking resources per capita (both devices and cloud) and consume content that’s mixed, interactive, dynamic, unique and personal. Layered onto that is the massive, but largely transparent to the user, phenomenon called “The Internet Of Things”.
Between the dominance of cloud software in the market, changing user behavior and expectations, and the explosion of IoT, pressure is being applied to the Internet in a way that it was never really designed to handle. Although “Cloud” and “Internet” can seem like somewhat interchangeable terms, in many ways they form more of an uneasy, it’s-complicated kind of a partnership rather than a happy marriage.
The Internet And Its Impact On Cloud Application Performance
In fact, due to data loss and delivery latencies inherent across the Internet, a lot of revenue lost by today’s SaaS and cloud enterprises is lost somewhere in the network infrastructure. While colossal steps in cloud virtualization of both compute and storage resources across the Internet have happened, network virtualization has hardly crossed the perimeter of the business or the enterprise into cloud computing networks.
The core of the Internet (known as the Internet Backbone) still runs on the protocols of the past like Border Gateway Protocol (BGP), which was famously extemporaneously created on three napkins and was never intended to be a long term fix for the Internet scalability issues of its day. BGP creates limitations that can hobble today’s cloud application peformance, and makes no guarantees about providing the shortest or least congested paths as routes.
Combined with other classic backbone issues like BGP loops, BGP convergence, lost links and dead equipment, this creates a performance tax that has to be paid. All traffic across the Internet backbone has to pay it. There are no exemptions, no exceptions, and no deductions- the Internet is far more inflexible than the IRS. This tax ensures that most SaaS businesses and enterprises (both those in the cloud and those transitioning to a cloud-based delivery model) are continuously challenged to deliver a like-local user experience for their customers as they roll out their services and apps worldwide.
Cloud-Scale Network Performance For SaaS
You can think of Teridion as very effective tax avoidance for SaaS providers. We replace the traditional and constrained legacy routing software and protocols by virtualizing the entire public cloud surface area as a giant pool of network resources to route across. Then, we use real-time sensors in conjunction with a machine-learning system trained specifically to identify link loss, link congestion, packet drop offs, and even the extremely-hard-to-detect “butterfly effect” (where a small issue in one part of the world causes major issues or outages on the Internet in another part of the world). This comes together as a global Internet Network Overlay on top of today’s physical internet and public cloud fabric.
Teridion’s software-defined overlay replaces traditional wired public networks with virtual routes and Teridion’s real-time, dynamic routing engine identifies the most ideal paths for both the traffic and the customer– paths optimized for latency or bandwidth per the customer’s SLA.
Teridion offers practically infinite capacity, with the only real limitation being the total networking capacity of the public cloud. We just open up more routes to scale to the traffic requirements of our customers. All done on the cloud, all done at run-time, all done just on-demand. In practice, our customers find Teridion accelerates their traffic between 3x- 15x over the Public Internet.
Just like Uber and Lyft are car companies with no cars, and Netflix and Hulu are both video marketplaces with no physical media or brick-and-mortar stores, Teridion is a cloud networking company that owns no physical networking gear. The public cloud is our infrastructure and we do what we do by building high-precision machine learning models to optimally route our customers’ traffic from their users to them, across the Internet.