Cloud computing has generally involved the use of specialist data centres to support computation and data storage at a central site (or a limited number of sites). The motivation for this has come from the need to provide economies of scale (and subsequent reduction in cost) for supporting large scale computation for multiple user applications over (generally) a shared, multi-tenancy infrastructure. The use of such infrastructures requires moving data to a central location (data may be pre-staged to such a location prior to processing using terrestrial delivery channels and does not always require the use of a network-based transfer), undertaking processing on the data, and subsequently enabling users to download results of analysis.
We extend this model using software defined networks (SDNs), whereby capability within the network can be used to support in-transit processing while data is in movement from source to destination. Using a smart building infrastructure scenario, consisting of sensors and actuators embedded within a built environment, we describe how an SDN-based architecture can be used to support real time data processing. This significantly influences the processing times to support energy optimisation of the building and reduces costs. We describe an architecture for such a distributed, multi-layered Cloud system and discuss a prototype that has been implemented using the Comet Cloud system, deployed across three sites in the UK and the US. We validate the prototype using data from sensors within a Sports facility and making use of Energy Plus.