So we’ve all seen how quickly cloud services are transforming how and where data gets shared among corporate organizations and their partners. Recent studies from Vanson Bourne indicate that businesses taking advantage of cloud services will grow 19.6 percent faster than their competitors that do not. The study also points out that cloud migrations are being spearheaded by business leaders rather than IT leaders. Now that we’re looking at more than 16,000 readily consumable cloud applications, it’s easy to understand that oftentimes employees, departments, and entire business units will spin up on the fly subscriptions with application providers to set up the apps they need in minutes or hours. While productivity may improve, when these services are created without the knowledge or input from the IT department, it can more often than not open up an area of risk. Visibility and control were two of the top most common concerns cited by CIOs in migrating to cloud services.

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So how does the IT department get a handle on how much of their network traffic is coming from, or destined to a cloud based file service, and why should they care? Unplanned adoption of cloud services by any organization can result in poor application response time performance as bandwidth considerations are not made beforehand. In working with an insurance company in the Midwest, we were able to use several features of their Exinda appliances to help them get a handle on how many cloud services employees were using and help manage the impact on their IP/ VPN WAN circuit by enforcing cloud service file share policies.

So as is the case with many IT challenges, the first step is visualization to determine if there even is an issue worth pursuing. In the case of this customer, we started with the Top URL report from the Exinda UI.

If your daily report routinely includes URLs such as zipcloud, carbonite, and backupgenie.com, this will begin to help you qualify if there is an issue worth looking into. Many signatures included in the Exinda’s signature database such as Dropbox or SkyDrive, along with reviewing the top URL report, will help your organization quantify how much activity traffic to and from these file sharing sites are represented within your user base.

WAN Forecast 1

Once we had a handle on the more popular cloud file share services in use by this organization, we quickly created an Application Group on Exinda to help us report and ultimately control how much bandwidth these services were able to achieve across the WAN. In this case, we had multiple locations backhauling the Internet from their core site across a 10M MPLS network. The issue caused a new WAN bottleneck by creating contention between internet and corporate applications, as they both compete for the same finite WAN resource. When WAN contention goes unmanaged, the results are typically poor and unpredictable application response tines. With the Exinda installed at the Internet Gateway, we were able to define the inside MPLS remote offices and manage how the Internet vs intranet applications were able to compete and be prioritized across the WAN. This is a case where installing Exinda’s AD client on one of the member servers in their domain helped us quickly see by user and department who the top users of these services were within each department.

Once we had a handle on which services were present, it was very easy to create an Application Group to represent these services and traffic.

Wan Forecast 2

Once the Application Group is created, it’s just a hop, skip, and jump to enforcing policy.

Wan Forecast 3

We then added the policy to each Virtual Circuit we created for the remote MPLS locations.

Wan Forecast 4

This policy ensures we can manage and report on the impact of these cloud based file share services, and how they compete with applications being served from the corporate DC vs. the cloud.

Oh, and yes, since we also support discard policies, we can have Exinda discard traffic to or from any non-sanctioned sites as well.

So as we have seen many times with other customers, once we are able to visualize and report on a certain condition, we are then able to very quickly turn the information gathered from the reports into actionable policy that helps us secure and contain many applications and services that are in play in our ever changing world of dynamic, disruptive WAN. Exinda’s reporting capability helps us quantify which applications may be causing unintended contention, and by using this information we can tie that to a dynamic bandwidth policy that allows us to manage the WAN resource levels that a cloud based service may require to provide acceptable and predictable application performance.

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Need help with cloud application control? We got you covered! Contact an Exinda Solution Expert today.