The rapid adoption of cloud services is driving enterprise customers to move their business-crucial applications and workloads into the cloud rather than on-premises and private data centers. Enterprise customers are starting to transform their WAN architecture to cloud-based networking. This change is driven by distributed and remote connectivity needs. The new architecture allows customers to locate network resources hosted in a public, private, or hybrid cloud platform to achieve maximum agility, performance, security, and operational efficiency.
“Top cloud service providers such as AWS, Azure, and Google have already built their global backbone to connect their regional platforms across the world,” said Edward Qin, chief product officer of Algoblu. “In the near future, it wouldn’t be surprising to see that more and more enterprises build their WAN solely on cloud networking.
“Customers will have more options between cloud service providers and traditional telcos, which can better fit their business growth goals.”
With the move to cloud networking ongoing at a rapid rate, below are some of the top trends you should look out for:
1. Digital transformation
Digital transformation is all about moving to the cloud. For enterprises, the drivers are agility and simplicity. This requires addressing cloud networking in a cloud-native and simple manner.
“Cloud workloads need a simplified and as-a-service way to talk to each other, to on-prem, and to the internet,” said Vishal Jain, co-founder and CTO at Valtix. “User access to cloud-based applications can best be controlled by providing cloud-native SD-WAN.”
This new generation of SD-WAN imposes cloud networking requirements in terms of how the mobile and site-based users feed into the cloud.
2. More NVMe in networking
Non-volatile memory Express (NVMe) is an open, logical-device interface specification for accessing storage media usually attached via a PCI Express (PCIe) bus. It takes advantage of flash memory from solid-state drives (SSDs), PCI Express (PCIe) add-in cards, and M.2 cards, etc. to provide high performance.
A host of commercial products have been introduced based on NVMe SSDs, from desktops for gaming to enterprise storage for artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). About 80% of client/consumer and 50% of enterprise SSDs are now NVMe, and these numbers are growing. Hyperscalers like Facebook are also building ultra-efficient data centers using NVMe technology.
“Increasing adoption of NVMe over Fabrics (NVMe-oF) is enabling enterprises to provision very high-performance, low-latency storage networks with flash devices shared among servers,” said Sean Yang, technical marketing manager at Phison Electronics. “NVMe-oF is ideal for workloads like AI/ML, scientific computing, analytics, streaming, and others that demand sustained performance.”
3. Connecting to public cloud IaaS resources
Another significant trend related to cloud networking is expanding connections to public cloud IaaS resources, said Mike Haugh, VP of product marketing at Gluware. Most organizations use some form of direct connection from their data centers and have some limited VPN connections over the internet. This requires backhauling all traffic through the data center to get to and from the cloud resources.
“We are seeing expanded capabilities from the cloud providers with components like the AWS Transit Gateway supporting more connection options, including direct connecting SD-WAN technologies that enable more optimal connectivity from a speed and performance standpoint,” Haugh said.
Related to this, NetOps teams are taking more ownership of cloud (IaaS) resources. Since the cloud resources are connecting to on-premises resources, they must be implemented in a secure and compliant manner. NetOps teams are taking standard cloud designs, like a data center on-demand, and are taking on the capability to spin up those resources along with network connectivity to support business requirements.
However, cloud resources open up potential security risks. Public cloud providers are changing rapidly and require frequent reviews and a zero-trust approach to explicitly permit traffic to and from public cloud infrastructure. NetOps are looking to leverage technologies like Terraform that enable declarative provisioning for multiple public clouds.
4. Container workloads
David Winikoff, VP of product management at Riverbed Aternity, said the predominant trend in cloud networks is the shift of enterprise processing from on-premises virtual machines (VMs) to container-based workloads in the cloud.
“This translates to more flexibility of deployment: from virtualization at the hardware level to the OS-level,” Winikoff said. “Which brings along with it increased use of orchestration tools. Which, in turn, makes for more flexibility of scaling resources to match workloads.”
5. Multiple clouds
If George Orwell were alive today, he might write, “One cloud, good; two clouds, better.”
Jain notes a growing trend of multicloud. Not just two clouds, but three, four, and more in some cases. Enterprises have various kinds of workloads (VMs, Containers, Serverless, PaaS) running in different clouds. Since networking is the common ground, as every workload touches it, multicloud networking forms the basis for enabling network-based security controls delivered in the form of multicloud security. This needs to be delivered as a service, so app developers can focus on building apps and not on infrastructure and security.
“The future is bright as we see cloud networking players trying to weave in security features and the cloud security players trying to weave in networking and visibility into their offerings,” Jain said.