By Saju Sankarankutty
While cloud computing has fueled the digital transformation of enterprises over the years, the initial focus has been on solving migration, integration and business issues, and mitigating the risks associated with cloud adoption. As they progress through their cloud journey, it’s time to move from buying and subscribing to exotic cloud provider services to building an end-to-end business solution. that provides value to users.
The cloud network is one such area that deserves our attention. It connects various cloud services hosted on the multicloud. Typically, enterprises focus on last-mile connectivity between the enterprise and the cloud network and largely neglect intra-cloud networks. They assume that hyperscalers will support the network aspects of service offerings and provide unlimited capacity. However, as enterprises increasingly deploy complex digital applications on clouds with stringent performance requirements, cloud network performance becomes a key factor in meeting response time expectations.
Robust multi-cloud network management enhances the value of the cloud
Multicloud network management has become an important aspect of the overall cloud management framework as a huge number of enterprise workloads are migrated to the cloud. Focusing on multicloud network management can help businesses realize several benefits, including:
Consistent user experience
With hybrid working becoming the norm, the average user experience journey traverses their home/office network, WAN, and cloud network. These three network segments must operate within the expected capacity. Performance degradation in any of the networks can impact the user experience.
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Security and observability
From an observability and manageability perspective, it’s important for the network support team to see the big picture of cloud and enterprise networks under one pane. This can not only help identify bottlenecks, but also improve supporting metrics such as mean time to detection (MTTD) and mean time to respond (MTTR).
From a cybersecurity perspective, network devices such as routers and access points are often the first points of attack. These devices should be corrected in a timely manner to reduce the blast radius. With the migration of critical applications to the cloud, similar fixes should be applied to cloud network resources such as the transit gateway, internet gateway, and VPN gateway. Patch solutions for cloud and non-cloud networking components often vary. As a result, patching network devices in the cloud and on-premises is time-consuming and prone to errors or gaps, resulting in open vulnerabilities. A unified remediation solution to remediate all network devices is essential for organizations heavily invested in the cloud.
Better network management
While automation is widely used to improve operational efficiency, its use is severely limited in enterprise LAN and WAN services. The advancement of software-defined techniques such as SDN and SDWAN has brought agility in configuring and managing remote networks. Most of the automation tools are provided by the OEM and they only automate the devices owned by the respective OEMs. Unified cross-OEM automation solutions are largely lacking in commercially available automation tool sets. Companies must therefore establish a unified platform to automate the network as a whole.
Unlike traditional infrastructure where resources such as servers, virtual machines, and storage are dedicated to a particular business unit, network resources are typically shared across multiple business units. In a scenario where the IT department wants to offer a network as a service to a business, it is important to amortize the cost of the network based on certain business logics such as consumption, number of users, number of VIP users, apps viewed, etc. Have a single unified platform capable of providing comprehensive insights and reports on network cost consumption of cloud and non-cloud networks, based on location, business unit, device type and other factors, would help organizations allocate costs and budget effectively.
Network device capacity management is another critical aspect that must be considered when creating and managing a complex network landscape, as any performance issue in a network entry/exit point can have an impact on a large population of users. Applying AI/ML technologies on telemetry data collected from various network devices can help organizations gain detailed insights and take action. For example, organizations after investigating the underlying usage of the network device can proactively initiate the change management process flow to upgrade the device and mitigate potential performance issues.
It is essential that all network cloud infrastructure is compliant with organization standards and regulatory requirements such as GDPR, SOX, HIPPA, etc. Having a unified portal that can effectively detect cloud and non-cloud network infrastructure compliance drift and fix it in an automated way is a must for all organizations.
As the cloud becomes ubiquitous and organizations increasingly depend on the cloud to drive innovation and deliver business solution, it is important to have capabilities to effectively orchestrate and manage the underlying network infrastructure. .
(The author is Vice President and Head of Unit Technology, Cloud, Infosys. Opinions are personal.)
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