Cloud computing is a trending technology driven by the concept of utilizing internet-based, managed IT resources instead of maintaining the hardware and software components locally or on-site. A cloud computing infrastructure essentially creates a virtual enterprise IT environment consisting of software-defined components and computing power, storage, and network capabilities. This virtual infrastructure does what a physical infrastructure does and more, as it helps reduce costs and complexity while optimizing and centralizing data storage, management, and processing.
As a basic example, rather than a small business needing to purchase its own servers for hosting and using software programs that are installed and maintained in the physical office facility, a business can utilize an off-site data center facility offering cloud services where the necessary hardware and software will be installed and managed. Thus, employees simply need an internet connection and access to their cloud-based resources.
Because cloud computing services and storage are internet-based, sufficient bandwidth is required, otherwise cloud computing would be ineffective. Both the cloud services providers and the users need fast, reliable internet connections to get the most out of their cloud resources and receive acceptable performance. As a result, fiber optic technology has emerged as one of the most efficient networking and data transmission technologies, serving as the communication backbone globally. For those new to fiber optics, it involves transmitting data in the form of light signals through glass optical fibers, delivering vast amounts of data at near the speed of light.
First, we’ll quickly discuss the basics of cloud computing service models, then share a few of the benefits that fiber optics provide for supporting the high speed connectivity required for cloud-based operations.
Fundamentals of Cloud Computing
The National Institute of Standards and Technologies (NIST) defines cloud computing by specifying five essential characteristics three service models and four deployment models.
- On-demand self-service: Users can provision for capabilities like network storage without interacting with providers.
- Broad network access: Services are available on the network and can be accessed through various devices, including mobile phones, laptops, and workstations.
- Resource pooling: Multi-tenant model enables the pooling of multiple easily accessible resources according to customer demand.
- Rapid elasticity: Capabilities can be quickly provisioned, released, and scaled in or out to fulfill demands.
- Measured service: Resource utilization is easily tracked, monitored, controlled, and reported for better transparency.
- Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) provides cloud-accessible virtual computing resources such as servers, storage, processing, and network.
- Platform as a service (PaaS) is a ready-to-use deployment and deployment environment where developers can provision, run or manage applications.
- Software as a service (SaaS) allows customers to use a complete cloud-hosted application managed by the provider.
- A private cloud or internal cloud dedicates the infrastructure to selected users or a single organization.
- A community cloud is a shared infrastructure where multiple organizations can share services and resources.
- The public cloud is a shared platform offered by third-party providers that is accessible through the internet.
- A hybrid cloud combines two or more cloud infrastructures for greater flexibility and leverages both private and public cloud capabilities.
Benefits of Fiber Optics in Cloud Computing
For all service and deployment models, fiber optic technology is essential for maximizing cloud computing performance and potential:
Speed and Reliability
A high-speed internet connection throughout the network ensures superior performance for mission-critical cloud applications and better cloud data synchronization. Fiber optic networks provide end-users with quick access to cloud applications and services, while installed devices like optical protection switches and fiber monitoring systems provide for faster issue resolution and higher reliability.
Optical fibers provide the right amount of scalability to keep up with expanding cloud environments and the emergence of increasingly complex applications. In addition to supporting the bandwidth demands of cloud services, high-density cables with large quantities of optical fibers (ex: 144 fiber cable) along with wavelength division multiplexing (transmitting multiple wavelengths in a single fiber) capabilities allow for massive increases in data capacity across a network.
Protection Against Cybersecurity Threats
Requiring specialized equipment and expertise, along with the difficulty in gaining access to physically tap an optical fiber, helps mitigate the chances of hacking. That being said, malicious hacking attempts, tampering, and tapping does occur, but encryption at the data level, fiber monitoring systems, and other new approaches to making fibers untappable provide added protection.
From the cloud side of the picture, moving to a 3rd party cloud hosted service located off-site for resource storage and application access helps prevent malicious actions from occurring at a business location. Not having servers, software programs, and other sensitive information and resources stored in an accessible area at a business and instead at a highly guarded data center with advanced data protection technology further minimizes cybersecurity risks in terms of physical actions and vulnerabilities that can arise.
Supports a Disaster-resistant Environment
Compared to copper and other types of cables, fiber optic cables are less corrosive and relatively more resistant to extreme environmental conditions. They can withstand pressure and temperature changes and keep users connected to the cloud during severe events. Additionally, moving assets to an offsite, fiber-connected data center means that in the event of a disaster that may negatively affect a business (ex: hurricane, flood, etc.), those assets remain available and protected. Many of today’s data centers are strategically located in places that are less prone to the effects of natural disasters.
Improved Quality Control
Fiber optic devices and systems can be customized to suit specific needs and therefore deliver increased network reliability, decreased maintenance costs, and optimized performance. Using high-speed fiber-based network results in greater efficiency in terms of performance, management, and troubleshooting of cloud services.
Provides a Competitive Advantage
With larger amounts of bandwidth, faster speeds, and reduced latency, along with cost savings and efficiencies that result from utilizing cloud-based services, businesses can gain a competitive edge within the corporate landscape. Fiber optic communications systems play a critical role in helping organizations get the most from their cloud resources, enabling them to keep up with emerging technologies while providing a better and faster user or customer experience.
Cloud computing is an expansive domain that is growing at a rapid pace as demands for these types of services continue to grow globally. From hosting essential business software to storing and delivering streaming web content and apps to consumers, cloud-based services are expected to increase exponentially, and fiber optic systems will continue to serve as the primary communications infrastructure. However, many countries and rural areas still lack quality access to high-speed internet connectivity, which will inhibit the use of cloud-based services in those areas. New fiber optic expansion initiatives in those underserved areas will help open up more opportunities for access to cloud computing services, further advancing the global communications network landscape.
Continued advancements in cloud computing technology and equipment also result in the need for periodic improvements to the fiber optic infrastructure. Leading optical fiber manufacturers like Corning® continue to innovate and create improved optical fibers, while new types of fiber, including hollowcore fibers from Lumensity® reduce latency significantly and have the potential to revolutionize future fiber optic system capabilities and networks.
A Final Note
As highlighted in this article, fiber optic and cloud computing are complementary technologies that will grow together. Optical fibers play an essential role in connecting cloud servers and data centers to those that rely on them, enabling a high-speed data transmission and distribution environment. As cloud computing advances, the need for continued and improved connectivity using fiber-based systems becomes even more important.
Learn More about Optical Fibers for Cloud Computing
With numerous types of optical fibers utilized for supporting cloud-based network communications, M2 Optics is available supports engineering teams in multiple ways:
- Sharing helpful information and technical specifications for specific fiber types
- Providing customized network simulators for accurately replicating cloud computing network performance and latency
Have a question about optical fiber? Need a custom length of fiber for simulating a cloud computing network link for a testing application? Contact M2 Optics today.