All you need to know about cloud data transfers

Though data transfer performance is important to selecting cloud computing tools, it requires different thinking

What is it with data-transfer cloud computing performance? Some people think cloud services provide great performance, and some think they don't perform well at all. The reality is that both beliefs are true, depending on how you use cloud services and the cloud providers themselves.

There are a few basic, core patterns that define data-transfer performance:

  • Enterprise to cloud
  • Mobile to cloud
  • Cloud to cloud

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Enterprise-to-cloud seems to be where the problems exist. Information is transferred, typically over the open Internet, from servers in the enterprise to public cloud computing providers. If you've ever checked out the speed difference in downloading data from a remote website versus an intranet site, you already know what the issues are in this arena. As a rule, try to avoid transfer of large chunks of data from the enterprise to the public cloud computing provider.

Mobile-to-cloud is not that big of a deal in the larger scheme. Businesses don't like to store data on mobile devices (smartphones, tablets, netbooks, and so on), and they pretty much leave most of the data in the cloud. Only data required for an operation is typically transferred to the mobile device. Thus, data-transfer performance is usually not an issue. Come to think of it, it's not a bad model to replicate when using cloud systems in any pattern.

Finally, cloud-to-cloud can be either intracloud (such as within Amazon Web Services) or intercloud transfer of data (such as between AWS and Rackspace). Intracloud data-transfer performance is directly related to the size of the pipe within the cloud service, as well as to performance-enhancing services such as cache services that might be in use. Typically, intracloud data transfer is between tenants, virtual machines, or applications and data stores. The approaches and technology vary greatly, so you should run your own benchmarks to duplicate the scenario you plan to implement. (For more information on an actual benchmarks, check out "Amazon comes out on top in cloud data transfer speed test.")

Intercloud data transfer is even more complex, having to deal with cloud services that may not like each other exchanging data. Moreover, the open Internet is the typical mode of transport, so the same issues arise here as with cloud-to-enterprise. I suspect that cloud providers will get better at this in the future, for the sake of their mutual clients. For now, you need to model, model, model, and test, test, test.

This article, "All you need to know about cloud data transfers," originally appeared at Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.


Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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