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How networking software can ease multi-cloud management complexity

How networking software can ease multi-cloud management complexity

Cloud providers offer security, networking, and management-and-orchestration tools that third-party networking software platforms can abstract to make management simpler for enterprise IT teams

Credit: Dreamstime

Deploying and operating applications in multiple public clouds is critical to many IT leaders, and networking software can help.

Migrating applications to cloud infrastructure requires scale, performance, and, importantly, automation. But achieving them all can be challenging due to limited visibility into that infrastructure and the fact that each IaaS platform has proprietary controls for networking and security that can make multi-cloud operations highly manual and therefore time consuming.

As a result, IT teams can be challenged to quickly resolve application performance issues, protect against external attacks and reduce costs. Their goal should be to combine the agility of IaaS resources with the security, manageability and control of their physical network.

Networking software installed by enterprise customers within their multi-cloud infrastructure can leverage cloud-native capabilities to provide the enhanced security, visibility and control they seek. Advances in software networking can enable IT teams to quickly deploy cloud-based applications via automation and to control them by abstracting the native tools each cloud provider packages with its services.

The need for multi-cloud

Multi-cloud will remain attractive to enterprises because each provider has a unique set of application capabilities, benefits, and development ecosystems that are often optimised for specific user requirements. In addition, some applications don’t belong in the cloud because of security or other reasons, so organisations will continue to use on-premises data centres as well.

As a result, IT organisations must manage a range of private cloud, public cloud and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platforms to provide the flexibility to run applications on the most appropriate platform regardless of location and at the same time provide excellent quality of experience for their users.

Challenges of multi-cloud networking

Cloud providers offer essential tools in three key areas: security, networking, and management and orchestration (MANO). Their security capabilities and controls often must be manually implemented, and their networking requires that their on-ramps and off ramps—which providers optimise--be specifically routed.

Each cloud has its own MANO tools to provide management, visibility, and automation tools that must be set in order to gain visibility see and tune application performance. That means a learning curve and fragmented MANO for enterprise IT teams that support multi-cloud environments.

These factors combine to make many IT operations involving IaaS multi-clouds difficult to scale and the task of troubleshooting performance slowdowns tedious and time consuming.

Multi-cloud networking requirements

The leading IaaS providers are building new access capabilities at the edge of their networks.  Key to user experience is network performance, which relies on network routing to and from the nearest cloud on-ramp.

Leveraging WAN network intelligence is essential to delivering a reliable, high quality experience between applications in the public cloud and end-users. Enterprise IT will require the network intelligence to connect to the best IaaS point of presence to accelerate application delivery.

Rapid application deployment to the cloud relies on abstracting the details of the IaaS infrastructure so IT organisations don’t have to custom build applications to the requirements of each IaaS provider.

A variety of networking suppliers provide network controller and cloud-based network intelligence to provide abstraction, improve visibility and accelerate application performance.

Network-control software — think Cisco ACI or Aviatrix Transit can provide networking tools to control, troubleshoot and centrally manage the IaaS multi-cloud and avoid having to develop these tools for each IaaS cloud. The software can also provide the means to automate manual processes otherwise required to deploy new applications.

With network control software, IT teams can abstract the unique details of each IaaS network to provide consistency across providers. IT can also increase application and data visibility, and improve security via automation, segmentation and better integration with third-party firewalls.

Multi-cloud operations add to network complexity and can limit IT’s ability to control application performance and security. IT teams are adapting to the new normal of multi-cloud to take advantage of its ease, simplicity but have to deal with its opaqueness and the lack of control it affords customers.

Network software can abstract the complexity of each unique IaaS platform operations and provide automation to reduce time-consuming manual operations.  IT pros should investigate network controller and cloud-based solutions to reduce multi-cloud complexity.


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