17th March 2022
By: Dan Davies, CTO at Maintel
With IDC (International Data Corporation) dubbing 2021 the ‘year of the multicloud’, the flexibility, scalability and agility of this next-generation cloud strategy is being realised. Evolved cloud strategies were essential in the face of the pandemic and are now part and parcel of resilient, future-fit organisations. In 2022 a multicloud strategy is the approach of those that have moved beyond pandemic survival to post-pandemic innovation and growth. Yet its adoption is still far from ubiquitous.
As part of its 2022 cloud trends analysis, Gartner highlighted ‘Cloud Ubiquity’, with hybrid, multicloud and edge environments set to boom. However, they also highlighted the lack of cloud-first mentality that still pervades. This suggests that many organisations are still holding back on realising the benefits of cloud, not to mention missing out on the benefits of a multi-cloud environment.
While many organisations are keen to realise multi-cloud benefits, some are hesitant to push forward, concerned about increased complexity. Embracing multi-cloud can indeed bring about new challenges, but these are not insurmountable. Here is where intelligent networking plays its vital part.
1. Increased network complexity
Organisations are progressively consuming multiple cloud services to harness the flexibility, scalability, and agility of software, platforms, and Infrastructure as-a-Service (SaaS/PaaS/IaaS) applications and virtual services. But accessing applications and services from various cloud providers and managing those providers creates significant network complexity.
As a consequence of adding multiple network connections from several vendors, organisations can lose sight of their network and applications, potentially leading to costly downtime or poor user experience. Additionally, accessing multiple incremental SaaS applications over existing internet connectivity without upgrading it can result in poor network performance and user frustration.
However, recent innovations in networking have resulted in new, intelligent technologies that are more secure and offer a superior level of control across all types of connectivity. Using intelligent multicloud connectivity technology enables a multi-provider approach without associated network complexity, providing oversight, monitoring and control in a single platform.
2. Maintaining security across a range of networks and devices
Multicloud connectivity brings flexibility. However, Chief Information Security Officers (CISO’s) are keenly aware of the need to secure cloud applications and protect critical information, so multicloud environments must offer a path to consistent security policies across the network.
That is what an intelligent multi-cloud solution offers; secure integration of multiple networks to provide flexible bandwidth for today’s critical cloud applications. Such an approach means that a diverse range of devices and locations can seamlessly and securely connect to cloud applications on-demand, easing the complexity burden on CISOs and increasing security with standardised policies across users, devices and networks.
Additionally, the efficient management of multiple cloud connections reduces the need for precious time and talent to be wasted monitoring, managing and governing multiple providers. When IT and security talent is at a premium, multicloud connectivity technology ensures that IT resources focus on service delivery rather than network management.
3. Improving user experience
Multi-cloud strategies are designed to offer flexibility and agility alongside consistent, quality user experiences. Today, that means ensuring applications can be easily accessed from any device and any location. Inflexible networks or devices can undermine business value, with user experiences negatively impacted by poor cloud connectivity.
Keeping the network agile can be achieved through intelligent networking that manages the bandwidth allocated to a particular location or application. For example, in the event of link failure, the network can reroute data over encrypted internet connections or via 4G backup ensuring that users stay connected.
This also raises the question of network performance visibility. In a multicloud environment, IT must have the ability to easily assess the quality of application performance to allow monitoring and control of the user experience in real-time. Intelligent networking provides this visibility while also being application-aware, through intelligently routing traffic around the network based on a set of policies that align closely with business priorities.
4. Multicloud cost management
Managing multiple networks can be costly and inefficient, but this is a barrier that can be overcome. After all, it is the network flexibility and diversity that drive performance and reliability. One way to mitigate this challenge is by selecting access technology that dynamically routes application traffic.
Connecting to multiple clouds using separate networks can be expensive to operate, however an intelligent multicloud solution allows cost to be reduced by selecting the right access technology, across multiple carriers, from a single provider. Additionally, bandwidth can be dynamically allocated to optimise value using Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) technology, implementing the best, most cost-effective network technology to access critical applications.
Intelligent networking; the strategic cloud enabler
According to Gartner, by 2023, over 60% of Enterprises will regard networking as core to their digital strategies, up from less than 20% who deem networking as a strategic enabler today. When multicloud is opening the doors to unprecedented flexibility, agility and innovation, organisations cannot let the challenges of network access and management thwart cloud ambitions. Any multicloud strategy must start with an intelligent networking approach designed to bring the promise of the next-generation cloud to life without compromising on security, experience, or cost.