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Cloudy with a chance of meatballs - but don’t forget the spaghetti!

Organizing in a jungle of connections when embracing multicloud networking

As the world embraces multicloud connections are being made in a disorganised and ad hoc manner - turning the network into spaghetti

Organisations are migrating more and more applications to the cloud, although the underlying network is often designed for applications in a local data centre. As a result, when these applications are moved into the cloud, point solutions are hurriedly devised and implemented, creating an impenetrable jungle of connections.

When designing their network architecture, companies usually assume that the systems and applications will be run within their own or a provider’s data centre.

'However, in recent years, there has been a veritable exodus to the cloud,' explains Mohamed El Haddouchi, Director of Solutions & Innovation at Infradata. 'More and more companies are moving their applications into the cloud, and when doing so, they often use a multicloud environment rather than a single type of cloud.' However, existing networks are not designed for such environments, presenting businesses with a whole range of problems.

Welcome to the Jungle

What El Haddouchi is seeing in practice is that during the transition companies are continually establishing new connections to specific clouds. 'They do this purely on an ad hoc basis.' For example, today you need Amazon Web Services, later you add Microsoft Azure and then after a while, Salesforce is added to the mix.

"Applications are rarely islands capable of operating independently"
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'Often no thought is given to how to integrate the company’s own applications in the data centre and its new applications in the cloud into a single concept. As a result, the network starts to resemble a heap of spaghetti; an impenetrable jungle of point-to-point network connections spread across the world.'

Setting up an integral LAN environment

'The problem is that applications are rarely islands capable of operating independently,' explains El Haddouchi. 'Take Salesforce for example. It often requires data from a different application, which may be located in AWS or a local data centre. Effective communication between these separate applications is therefore essential.'

"...you need a new network architecture that operates as though your cloud environments are running in the same LAN environment as your own data centre." - Mohamed El Haddouchi, Director of Solutions & Innovation at Infradata

In the past, a network environment would be constructed within the data centre to enable optimal interconnection of all applications and databases via local connections. By setting up this sort of structure nowadays, you can integrate all of your cloud environments into a single network environment.

'To enable this connectivity, you need a new network architecture that operates as though your cloud environments are running in the same LAN environment as your own data centre. This enables efficient communication between different applications within a multicloud environment.'

Network performance and cyber security

El Haddouchi emphasizes that as well as connectivity you must also take performance into account. 'When businesses require connectivity with Microsoft Azure, they often quickly construct a VPN and think no more about it. However, this can result in suboptimal network speed and performance, which are crucial factors in today's multicloud environments. Performance is much more important today than it was back in the days of on-site network architecture.'

"If you don't pay enough attention to the design of your network, then before you know it it'll balloon into a complex multi-vendor network environment."
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'The same applies to security,' continues El Haddouchi. 'While applications used to be relatively secure within the company's four walls, the cloud is now a fixed part of the perimeter. In the past, applications would be run locally; your users would be connected to the data centre and they could only access the internet from there.'

However, now that some applications and data are stored off-site, users go beyond the perimeter as soon as they get started. 'For this reason, the new architecture requires completely different security measures from the ones we are currently used to.'

MultiCloud: A rapidly rising trend

The final aspect to take into account is the cost. 'Connectivity with cloud environments can be established in many different ways,' explains El Haddouchi. 'If you don't pay enough attention to the design of your network, then before you know it, it'll balloon into a complex multi-vendor network environment. As a result, your monthly costs will be much higher and you'll have to manage a vast number of different parties in order to keep your network running smoothly.'

"We urgently need to start thinking about how the network of the future should be structured."
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Analysts such as Gartner say that in the near future, more and more businesses will move into the cloud, with a large proportion establishing a multicloud environment. 'For this reason, we urgently need to start thinking about how the network of the future should be structured. Connectivity, performance, and security are the three most vital aspects to consider when setting up an efficient multicloud network architecture. This will help limit your costs and reduce the number of parties that you have to manage.'

"There are hundreds of different clouds and countless types of network technology, so integrating everything into a single effective network is an extremely complex challenge." - Mohamed El Haddouchi, Director of Solutions & Innovation at Infradata

Cloud LAN architecture

El Haddouchi is enthusiastic about cloud LAN architecture. 'These are modern architectures that condense multicloud environments into a single integrated network in order to prevent a complex and expensive "spaghetti network".'

Multicloud environments can involve parties such as Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, IBM, Oracle, or Salesforce, as well as the applications in your own data centre. 'Every single application and environment can be routed into a single network domain and easily managed from there.'

However, developing this kind of Cloud LAN is no easy task, warns El Haddouchi. 'You need a great deal of specialist knowledge and experience. There are hundreds of different clouds and countless types of network technology, so integrating everything into a single effective network is an extremely complex challenge. Furthermore, technology develops at such an immense speed that it is difficult for many organisations to keep track of everything. Companies need to think about whether they are willing and able to do this themselves, as you can easily outsource the design and management of networks like these to specialists, enabling you to fully focus on your core tasks.'

Mohamed El Haddouchi - 2 July 2018

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