Smartphone work-life blurring hits the cloud

The surge in demand from mobile devices and business on the cloud will oblige providers to try new approaches, says Lori MacVittie

The explosive growth in smartphone usage will blur work and leisure and create headaches for cloud providers, says Lori MacVittie.

The push to get consumers into the cloud is on. But as more consumers take to mobile devices and unified communications, the demands on cloud networks delivering applications and storing vast volumes of data will also become huge.

Two benefits of the cloud — however nebulous its definition might be — are being sold to the consumer market: first, never losing data because it's backed up in the cloud; and secondly, a seamless transition between desktop, laptop and mobile devices.

It is this second benefit that will put pressure on the ability of service providers to manage growth and scale because 'a seamless transition' to the consumer market means it must look, feel and perform the same, regardless of the access medium.

Tracking usage and access patterns
Providers historically needed to analyse patterns of text and phone calls — you can still do that on a smartphone, I believe — as a means to perform capacity planning.

Now they will also need to track usage and access patterns for applications, and include those in already complex formulae for computing when and how to scale efficiently to meet demand.

So it should come as no surprise that service providers will need to employ cloud-computing techniques for on-demand scalability of their own services to meet the demands of customers attempting to access cloud-deployed application services.

Demands on service-provider networks and infrastructure will probably be predictable based on consumer usage. But when combined with enterprise customer requirements, the service providers will need their own cloud computing-based model to avoid overspending on infrastructure and servers.

Whereas consumer use during the working day is relatively light compared with the evening hours, the reverse is true for enterprise customers who have heavier usage patterns during the day and lighter ones in the evening — except when they're the same customer.

The growing use of mobile access technologies by younger consumers and the increasing use of personal technology to access corporate resources — and vice versa — is blurring the lines between what service providers might have once designated as 'corporate' versus 'consumer' usage.

Use of contextual networking systems
To maintain scalability and service-level agreements across both markets, providers will have to use contextual networking and application delivery systems.

The ability to contextually identify users and usage to ensure resources are provisioned appropriately across the provider's network will be paramount to...

...coping with the explosive growth brought about by the combined forces generated by mobile devices and cloud computing services.

It will no longer be enough to identify application traffic based on application or destination or even source. The growing conflation of work-life across devices and users means that a service provider will need to employ every tool available to address performance and availability challenges.

Cloud-computing models offer service providers the flexibility and adaptable provisioning of resources necessary to meet volatile demand for their services and external cloud-deployed application services.

With a model that can automatically provision resources where they are necessary on-demand, the service provider can concern itself with employing the contextually-aware services of network and application delivery network infrastructure that will be required to maintain performance, security, and availability levels while remaining competitively priced.

Potentially new market strategy
Indeed, savvy service providers will note the conflation of business user and consumer and identify correctly a potentially new market strategy that employs cloud computing as the basis for a unified work-life access strategy.

Using context and intelligent infrastructure as the foundation for a cloud computing-based model lets the service provider apply infrastructure services appropriately to customer traffic and simultaneously support business and consumer access using the same resources.

Doing so reduces the complexity of the already complex architectures needed to support existing traffic while seamlessly scaling for growth. It also makes efficient use of resources by dynamically provisioning where and when such resources become necessary.

Service provider networks have always been the most challenging and demanding of environments. They require high-performance, high-capacity, flexible infrastructure and delivery and these demands are growing along with explosive consumer use.

The push to drive consumers to the cloud increases the burden on the service provider networks — not only to connect mobile consumers and business users with their clouds, but also to ensure the message of seamless, fast and secure user experiences can be realised.