Sharon Bell is the Director of Marketing for CDNetworks.
Globalization is not a new concept, but strides in technology seem to have accelerated the shrinking of our world. The internet – and more recent advancements in cloud technology – have made people around the world accessible with a few clicks on a keyboard.
Consider this: A recent Cisco study found that cloud traffic will represent about 75 percent of the total data center traffic by 2018. By that time, more than half of the world’s population will have internet access. This will put enormous pressure on existing infrastructure from data centers to wireless networks.
The time to start preparing is now. But where to start? Let’s take a look at the steps enterprises and data centers should take to ensure readiness for an increase in users, traffic and global access points.
With more than 7 billion people on Earth, there’s incredible opportunity to reach new customers around the globe today and well into the future. Network infrastructure provides the foundation for global scale. There are several options to ensure security, scale and operational effectiveness.
Deploying multiple data centers at key global locations is one solution (either in a private or colocation data center model). Multiple data centers provide redundancy for data and applications as well as the potential for lower latency for global users. Having multiple data centers allows for business continuity in the face of natural disasters, planned downtime or other failures. However, it also creates challenges for enterprises, such as high maintenance costs, need for staff expertise, synchronization concerns, and unaddressed content delivery issues.
One of the driving factors toward cloud storage and data centers as infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) is it allows for the offloading of traditional IT department functions and shifting capital investments to operational costs. In that vein, another solution to global scale is to utilize a content delivery network and application acceleration techniques. Both can increase speed of information exchange for the middle mile and reduce latency for the end user.
A hybrid of both – taking advantage of the redundancy benefits of two or more data centers and acceleration benefits of a Content Delivery Network (CDN) – provides a well-rounded solution as well.
The best solution for an enterprise depends on an its overall business plan and budget, but building out the network foundation for global scale is an absolute necessity.
Accelerate the Experience
After building a solid network foundation, it’s time to address efficiency and acceleration. More people accessing the internet will hopefully translate into more visitors to enterprise websites. The ability to handle increased traffic – and from diverse global locations – is and will continue to be vital to global growth.
Creating the best user experience is a challenge. Caching static content in data centers scattered throughout the globe reduces latency by shortening the distance between the user and content. Yet, much of today’s content is dynamic content – application-generated and often user-specific. This type of content can’t be cached on a local server, but enterprises should employ other techniques to accelerate communication.
Hardware-based WAN optimization is a traditional solution. Employing an application delivery network can improve web performance and provide a scalable solution.
Cloud technologies have changed the way many of us think about growth and accessibility. No longer do enterprises need devoted server rooms and to make large capital expenditures on hardware. Partnering with specialized companies to provide the solution to enterprise challenges enables the accelerated growth required in competitive markets.
Focus on Mobile
One of the main drivers for increased internet users across the globe is the pervasive spread of web-enabled smartphones. Within the next three years, about one-third of the world's population – more than 2 billion – will own a smartphone, and one-quarter already do. What does this mean for a global enterprise?
It means that mobile friendly is going to be an essential component to growth and success. From enabling employees to access applications to optimizing web properties for mobile users, mobile use is on track to becoming even more ubiquitous.
Web applications and websites designed for mobile use is a no-brainer and a necessity at this point, especially in a global marketplace. Ensuring enterprise customers (and employees) have fast access to web assets is another challenge. It’s not enough to rely on simplifying design to optimize a mobile experience; mobile visitors also want information and access quickly.
Improving mobile performance must be treated differently – and involve different tools – than desktop web performance. Tactics include reducing the number of HTTP requests required to fetch for each page, compressing the size of text, images and video, and optimizing client-side processing. Local storage, in a data center or CDN, reduces latency.
Small World, Big Business
As technology accelerates the shrinking of our world, it’s imperative to stay on top of opportunities. The internet connects companies and customers in a way never before possible, but it also crowds the competitive landscape.
Preparing for global scale takes planning, investment and choosing the right partners to provide the backbone necessary for success. The opportunity for growth and establishing business connections in new markets is ripe for the taking. Build a strong foundation and reap the benefits years into the future.
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