Multi-Cloud Networks and the Role of SD-WAN

How SD-WAN can help tame multi-cloud networks

Over the past two years, we’ve seen a steady increase in the use of multi-cloud networks. However, the way that these systems are created usually brings about some problems for users and enterprise IT departments. We have been exploring the utilization of SD-WAN solutions to solve these problems.

Our company, Coevolve, has been working to bridge the gap between old and new technologies since 2014. We help enterprises adopt the next generation of networking technology, with a particular focus on SD-WAN solutions. Our team has a background in traditional technologies and environments and new and emerging technologies.

As a business closely involved with technological trends, our initial interest in multi-cloud networks has evolved into an essential portion of our work. We have seen enterprises of all types moving their applications and infrastructure into cloud environments. Multi-cloud networks have become increasingly popular and more complex, but they often bring about issues regarding accessibility. SD-WAN could play a significant role in resolving those problems.

What does multi-cloud mean?

Most moves to cloud environments are driven by digital transformation initiatives and major new projects, but usually, the entire network is not shifted to a cloud system at the same time. Across a single enterprise, there could be a significant number of cloud deployments. Some may be internet-based, some may be SaaS applications. There could be a mix of private networks and cloud providers. We have looked for common threads in a particular industry or geographic region, but there aren’t any that we can find. All industries we examine seem to be experiencing the same significant increase in the number of cloud deployments.

What we do know is that multi-cloud networks are often not planned, but are a result of a mixture of complex cloud environments that are unconnected, unable to communicate, and accessed differently. Sometimes departments don’t communicate with each other to utilize the same network. Other times, there may be a purposeful move to deploy services in various cloud platforms as part of a business continuity or risk mitigation strategy. Usually, though, multi-cloud networks are a result of a combination of these factors.

What is changing about enterprise networks?

A main driving force for SD-WAN is taming these multi-cloud networks and creating an easily accessible and controlled system for enterprises. In applying an SD-WAN, we focus on the underlay component, which will determine how the entire network functions.

You cannot assume that the network is built from the same tools and technologies as previous cycles. You must ensure that the underlay is able to support a multi-cloud environment.

The Edge Device

The edge device is vital, as it determines how you will access your destination. Here is where you make all decisions regarding access. For instance, whether or not the destination is a public or private cloud network, and which is more important. You can also determine which users have access to which resources, and how the control, prioritization, visibility, and analytics around those decisions work. As the first step of the system, the edge is critical for other pieces downstream to be accessed correctly.

The Architecture

We have seen entirely new network architecture emerge lately. In the past, we would focus on the center of gravity for the network to determine the structure. However, even the more technologically conservative enterprises have shifted to systems with no real perimeter or core. This change requires the use of new technologies that can come from cloud providers or traditional Telco vendors. The way that networks are architected and balanced has begun changing completely.

The Security Approach

With the change in architecture comes a shift in security. No perimeter means no perimeter security, which knocks out a tried and true method. Instead, we look at instilling the security into the DNA of the network. Each component’s abilities and access are built into every other component. You need a strong level of control. Additionally, networks should be secured for expansion into different environments outside of the enterprise’s control.

Any solution to the multi-cloud problem needs to take all of these factors into account. Networks have changed a lot in recent years, and we have to consider that when looking for ways to facilitate the use of multi-cloud systems.

Why the interest in SD-WAN as a solution?

SD-WAN is becoming a critical part of the multi-cloud environment. It acts as an excellent traffic controller for guiding you from point A to your desired point B out in the network. With dynamic and flexible policy management, SD-WAN allows you to identify traffic, determine its destination, and apply the right policy with the correct priority level very easily.

Because it can help untangle the web of multi-cloud systems, SD-WAN is an essential element for these networks. The benefits enterprises are already getting from SD-WAN could lead to a model in which several different overlays are being used.

What are some of the trends we are seeing?

We know that multi-cloud networks aren’t going away anytime soon. There may be some consolidations, but the growing use of multi-cloud systems won’t be significantly slowing down. We can expect cycling, as enterprises allow multi-cloud networks to get too out of hand and then reign them back in. Additionally, we already see a trend towards the use of public internet as a shift away from the traditional direct connection links.

Multi-cloud networks are becoming more and more prevalent today, but the innate complexity of the systems can cause some issues to arise. However, with SD-WAN, we can streamline the use of multi-cloud environments. With the right underlay infrastructure and SD-WAN, you can reap the benefits of multi-cloud systems without battling the usual problems that come from them.

Key Takeaways

  • Multi-cloud environments are widely used in all types of enterprises
  • With an excellent underlay, your system will easily be able to support a multi-cloud network
  • SD-WAN can facilitate the use of multi-cloud networks
  • These trends are becoming widely used and are not going away