Cloud networking: Critical decisions when migrating from on-premises

Cloud computing has been making waves in the IT space for quite some time now. It wasn’t long before enterprises realized the potential of the cloud and started investing in the cloud platform. Many companies were attracted to this new way of computing that was faster, more efficient, and helped them reduce costs. However, not every enterprise operates the same way. Some enterprises still prefer the on-premises platform to the cloud in terms of data security. Other organizations often don’t find the cloud helpful in all the ways it promises. Suffering with network latency among various other network issues, organizations are forced to rethink about moving to the cloud. However, the cloud is not just the cool kid in the market that doesn’t deliver on its promises. These problems indicate how unprepared some organizations can be when they migrate to the cloud. Let’s see what some of the problems are and how they are being solved.

Network latency

Given the constantly growing workloads, migration to the cloud seems like a practical choice. However, migration to the cloud comes with its own set of complexities. Various enterprises are not able to reap the benefits of the cloud that make it a better option compared to on-premises. The reason is that enterprises neglect their network resources which are extremely crucial while migrating to the cloud. Without proper network capacity, the cloud is simply useless.

The problem worsens when enterprises use a hybrid approach to run their applications. Different platforms need different networking configurations. The network configurations designed for the on-premises platform can’t work well for the cloud. Enterprises using a hybrid approach expect their multiple cloud platforms to be available at all times, but this can ultimately lead to network latency. Network latency can have adverse effects on the performance of various applications and services.

Cloud networking: The next new thing

Networking plays a crucial role in a workload no matter where it is hosted. So it’s crucial that the network is reconfigured while migrating from on-premises to cloud or between different cloud providers. Overlooking network challenges can lead to an excessive burden on the network. IT admins should plan network configurations beforehand to make sure that resources deployed across different platforms work smoothly and there are no connectivity issues.

Cloud computing is moving toward a more flat topology where data transfer among different components is quick, easy, and free of any latency. Cloud networking is one of the newest technologies available in the market that helps users tackle the network challenges in order for them to have a fluid experience with the cloud. The objective of cloud networking is to make sure organizations utilize the entire potential of cloud computing. Cloud networking allows users to build virtual networks using services based on the cloud. A cloud computing network should be able to provide centralized visibility and management.

Cloud networking offers great perks to users. Using cloud networks helps integrate multiple cloud providers and on-premises datacenters into a single resource. With a unified infrastructure in place, users can access data and files hosted on any platform with ease. The speed of cloud networks is also because of the numerous servers spread across the world, which means that data has to travel less physical distance between servers.

Cloud computing network infrastructure

Enterprises migrating to the cloud have observed the need for constant beck and call by network managers to make sure the cloud works effectively. This points to how the cloud needs a completely new architecture. Traditional static networks hinder the cloud. Network resources in a static network are limited to a physical location and that works for on-premises systems. However, the cloud requires a more flexible network to manage all the resources available ubiquitously. For the cloud, the network resources can’t be limited to a single location. The solution to that is the virtualization of network resources like routers and WANs making it easy to automate and manage them.

A cloud network needs to be secured through network encryption. Business critical data should be prioritized independent of where the data is hosted. The cloud works on the idea of ubiquitous computing, which means that resources are spread across the world in numerous physical locations. These locations are unimportant for the users accessing them. Cloud network abstracts these resources, which makes it easy for network administrators to monitor and manage them. Traditionally used physical resources can now be abstracted and managed through management and automation tools. This makes for a fluid pool of network resources that work as a single logical representation providing for any-to-any connectivity essential for the cloud infrastructure.

Modern network infrastructure

The cloud network is far too complex for traditional networking solutions. This has led to innovation in networking infrastructure to provide technologies that comprehend the cloud and its network requirements. The goal to have an efficient cloud network is to reduce physical hardware and move the network functionality to the cloud.

Software-defined network (SDN): This concept has been popularized in recent years as it plays an important role in bettering the cloud network. Using cloud networking techniques, organizations can host large wireless LAN networks over the cloud for superior network management. Since the Internet has become more reliable to host services, network management functions can reside in the datacenters and their functions like security, connectivity, and management can be pushed to the cloud where these functions can be used as services by the users. Additionally, wireless routers and branch office devices can also be virtualized and hosted on the cloud. Software defined network or cloud WAN decouple networking functions from physical devices resulting in increased efficiency and better throughput.

Leaf-spine switching topology: Traditional networking model consists of three layers. The access switch connects the end-user to the network, the aggregation or distribution switches that act as the middle layer providing connectivity to the access layer, and the final core layer that provides routing services to the different components of a data center. The problem with this model is latency. Packages are stopped at every hop and prohibit connectivity necessary for a cloud network.

This made way for a newer networking model known as leaf-spine switching topology. This model consists of leaf switches that make up the access layer and are connected to a collection of spine switches. The connection between leaf and spine switches fully meshes, which makes for more efficient infrastructure. The mesh ensures that every node is one hop away, which rids this architecture of latency. The newer protocols like Transparent Interconnection of Lots of Links (Trill) and shortest path bridging (SPB) replace the previous spanning tree protocol (STP) and make for a better network.

Cloud networking: An array of features

The cloud is taking over and it can’t do this without cloud networks. The cloud brings an array of features for enterprises to help manage their workload better and cut costs, but if enterprises don’t invest in a better network architecture for the cloud, they’ll find themselves unable to tap into the benefits the cloud has to offer. Today, there are various cloud networking applications available in the market that help enterprises maintain and monitor their cloud networks. With so many options to choose from, enterprises should take time to understand what works best for their workloads. However, despite these options being available, enterprises migrating to the cloud really need to assess their networking requirements and should plan their cloud networks based on these requirements. Additionally, newer hardware solutions like gigabit Ethernet switches should also be considered for a more fluid and smooth cloud experience.

Images: Pixabay

Twain Taylor

My interests lie in DevOps, IoT, and cloud applications. I began my career in tech B2B marketing at Google India, after which I headed marketing for multiple startups. Today, I consult with companies in The Valley on their content marketing initiatives, and write for tech journals.

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Twain Taylor

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