When you think about it, the cloud is really all about networking. A large repository of data or compute power exists in some nebulous location or other. To be of value, it must serve up data or processing resources rapidly. Otherwise, why bother? No one would pay for the cloud if it ended up being much slower than having the same services available internally.
Here are the some of the top trends in cloud networking for 2022:
Cloud Networking’s Big Challenge
Enterprises today are evaluating how to develop applications that leverage IoT, mobile connectivity and artificial intelligence (AI) at scale. According to most surveys, they plan to deploy such applications in the next five years. But at the same time, they admit that if they could demonstrate the ability to ship more products at lower cost with higher reliability, they would develop and deploy such applications much sooner. The performance of cloud networking stands in the way.
“While it might be a simple decision to implement a proof of concept or a lightweight mobile application on the public cloud, more mission-critical, life-supporting, and data-intensive applications are likely going to require hybrid multi-cloud deployments,” said Mike Mulica, CEO at Alef.
“Those are not deployments over one to two clouds; there are over mid-to-high single digit private and public clouds, making the performance of cloud (inter)connectivity paramount.”
There are a growing number of applications where architecture, cloud, and infrastructure decisions are becoming critical at the application design stage. The connectivity needs to be there for the application to succeed due to the complexity of multi-cloud interactions.
“Such connectivity must meet critical design considerations and that is where intent-based networking becomes important,” said Alef.
Intent-based networking specifies connections and characteristics without knowing exactly how that connection is being established. It is a software enabled automation process that uses high levels of intelligence, analytics, and orchestration to improve network operations and uptime. Cloud networking needs to incorporate intent-based networking if it is to rise to the challenge.
In addition to intent-based networking, the challenges of modern cloud architectures demand another change to traditional networking. Known as deterministic networking, it embraces the implementation of deterministic data paths for real-time applications with extremely low data loss rates, packet delay variation (jitter), and bounded latency.
Intent-based and deterministic networking are key for enterprises to accelerate the development and implementation of industrial automation applications,” said Alef.
As the network expands, as clouds become more complex, and as networking becomes more mission-critical, security rises in stature. A big trend, therefore, is network managers being forced out of their rigidly defined box to encompass a broader swath of duties, particularly network security.
They may protest that they deal with networking, not security. But just as many other areas of IT have converged, so too have the worlds of networking and security become inextricably linked. Networking specialists today not need more than a superficial knowledge of security protocols and best practices. They must be able to set up networks that are secure, rather than waiting for security specialists to mop up their messes after the fact.
This trend is easy to see when you investigate courses in network management today compared to a decade ago. The amount of security data now dwarves what networking specialists used to be required to know.
SASE Fills the Gap
There are, of course, many security technologies that are intimately tied up with networking. Intrusion Prevention/Detection Systems, Secure Web Gateway (SWG), Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB), Zero Trust Network Architecture (ZTNA), and Firewall-as-a-Service (FWaaS) technologies, are just a few examples. But having so many separate tools to monitor the security of the network can play into the hands of the bad guys. If these tools don’t interoperate and don’t allow integrated management and monitoring, alerts can be missed. The consequences can be gruesome.
According to Dell’Oro Group, Security Services Edge (SSE) is filling the gap by providing a way to manage these disparate tools centrally and effectively. The SSE market grew 40% year-over-year to achieve sales of $800 million in 1Q 2022. SSE encompasses a great many security and networking elements including cloud-delivered SWG, CASB, ZTNA, FWaaS, and more.
“We have identified SSE as an initial basket of four cloud-delivered security technologies that underpin security in SASE,” said Mauricio Sanchez, Research Director, Network Security, and SASE & SD-WAN at Dell’Oro Group.
“In the age of distributed apps and hybrid work, enterprises increasingly prefer cloud-delivered security over traditional on-premises solutions.”