The new breed of consumers—the cloud consumers–are here. They demand fulfillment of all promises of the cloud such as ubiquitous access, scalability, elasticity, cost advantages and uninterrupted service. Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) located halfway across the globe, attempting to meet the demands of their consumers are resorting to “geo-location” to enhance the quality of experience.

Geo-location is a distributed service concept. Consumers attempting to access their data from any location are pointed to the data centre that is nearest to them. The process converts the consumer’s IP address into location information consisting of latitude and longitude pairs using information that is already available on the web. Mobile users are located with attributes such as WiFi access or Cell Tower with a fair amount of accuracy.

However, geo-location does not in itself guarantee quality of service. If the service provider does not have sufficient bandwidth between the data centre and the geo-location, quality of service could be poor. It could lead to suboptimal service and consumer experience could be degraded significantly. CSPs leverage dynamic network information available on the nodes to optimize end user experience in such scenarios.

The Application Layer Traffic Optimization (ALTO)—an IETF Working Group initiative—facilitates the sharing of network information with application to enable selection of better “peers” for communication. These concepts are now being extended to Content Delivery Networks (CDNs), where network information is being shared between the service provider and the service user to direct the content user to the best content node. When the number of users to a data centre increases, the CSPs often extend the LAN fabric across data centres using data centre Interconnect technologies such as Virtual Private LAN Service (VPLS) or Overlay Transport Virtualization (OTV) to connect multiple data centres and ensure consistency in the quality of user experience

CSPs integrating geo-location services with cloud application delivery services find that it is now possible to share a core underlying traffic management system with sharing of request context across modules deployed on the platform. This in turn enables application security, access management, acceleration and core load balancing services.

For organizations with large web processes, geo-location reduces network costs and helps scale applications appropriately. Real time tracking and display of user location and status becomes possible. Customer communication can be made instantaneous helping companies rethink field service in more ways than one.