The Multi-Cloud Era: Five Common Network Challenges and the SD-WAN Solution

Avatar for Jody GilliamBy Jody Gilliam|Sep 17, 2019|7:30 am CDT

Research from IDG shows that 90% of companies will have some part of their applications or infrastructure in the cloud by the end of this year, with the rest expected to follow by 2021. IT spending reflects this trend, with the average investment in cloud rising nearly 40% from three years ago. Research from Nemertes shows that the average enterprise now has more enterprise workloads (56%) sourced in external clouds than in their own data centers, and the average organization now uses nine different cloud vendors across PaaS, SaaS, and IaaS, according to IDG. Everyone is building a multi-cloud IT environment in part because the cloud is considered a prerequisite for adopting new technologies like IoT and AI that drive transformative change. Today, competitiveness is defined by cloud agility and the speed at which enterprises can adopt and leverage digital disruption.

But as the cloud becomes the primary pathway to next-gen initiatives like predictive analytics and conversational intelligence, it often creates new stressors in the IT environment. Cloud services change the way traffic traverses the network, making it difficult for the network to support cloud applications with a predictable quality of service. Whether your enterprise takes a cloud-first strategy or a cloud-only approach, the cloud is here to stay. It’s now imperative to build a network capable of delivering reliability in today’s multi-cloud era. Here’s what you need to know.

Five Multi-Cloud Network Challenges

Digital business and cloud apps essentially rewrite network requirements. Consider these common challenges in today’s multi-cloud world:

  1. Traffic is Doubling: Research from IDC found that network traffic doubles every 36 months due to the increasing adoption of cloud services.
  2. Most Networks Can’t Keep Up: In an age where users want “perfect” app connections anytime, anywhere, traditional networks are too rigid and complex to satisfy the growing bandwidth demands of a company’s digital transformation initiative.
  3. Congestion Kills Performance: The proliferation of cloud apps can create congestion that kills network performance, and the backhauling of network traffic to a central data center for security and data protection can also impact predictability.
  4. Communications are at Risk: Apps like video, real-time UC and contact center can also run bandwidth thin, making them notoriously sensitive to jitter and/or packet loss.
  5. Cloud Services Suffer Too: Cloud services from Amazon Web services (AWS), Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud can similarly suffer slowdowns when any of these underlying services are impacted.

The right solution is needed for supporting today’s virtualized, multi-focused IT environment. Thus, at the core of digital transformation is network agility, which aids in removing the complexities of a cloud-first strategy.

Solving the Problem: Build a Predictable Cloud App Delivery Platform with SD-WAN

In managing multi-cloud environments, CIOs need a WAN that will perform with predictability–anything less would mean suffering the wrath of unhappy users. Many are recognizing the competitive advantages of a software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) solution for its ability to maximize the available bandwidth, prioritize critical applications, and solve cloud application performance problems.

SD-WAN can serve as an effective cloud app delivery platform. Here are some of the top ways SD-WAN addresses cloud migration challenges and relieves traditional WAN headaches too:

Deep Network Visibility for Real-Time Control

SD-WAN helps evaluate the performance of each application and location with real-time data and full access to network bandwidth controls available in an integrated and interoperable dashboards. With a complete activity history, IT managers can take control with application-by-application visibility, seeing exactly what applications are being used on your corporate network. Better still they can prioritize cloud applications and dial up and bandwidth on-demand.

Direct Access to Cloud Services

SD-WAN often provides direct connections to cloud service providers including Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure, which can help guarantee service availability. This is particularly the case when your network service provider offers cloud SLAs that cover data transport to AWS. Using a direct connection allows the traffic to avoid traversing the internet and therefore delivers more predictable performance with lower latencies and packet loss. Many IT leaders also feel their traffic is more secure as it spends less time traversing the public internet. Analysts at Nemertes Research more thoroughly explain the value of SD-WAN’s direct cloud connections in this white paper.

Hybrid WAN Architecture

Not every cloud application needs the same level of availability or reliability, and a transport-agnostic approach can help right-size the network according to the unique needs of each application. SD-WAN offers the ability to mix and match private and public connectivity, so IT teams are better suited to match business-critical apps with highly reliable connectivity while matching applications that are considered optional with less reliable connectivity. This helps to cut costs. Furthermore, enterprises leverage SD-WAN to couple private connectivity with multiple public internet connections. This increases reliability by reducing the risk of any single point of failure. SD-WAN reroutes traffic as needed and provides fast, highly transparent failover capabilities.

Enhanced Security that Scales with Cloud Migration

SD-WAN can also simplify security management, which is essential in the age of the cloud. Advanced SD-WAN solutions come with integrated routing, next-generation firewalls with optional unified threat management, and additional security monitoring services including product bundles that comprehensively address threat detection and response. This helps take the burden of security monitoring off your IT team as your enterprise continues to expand their list of cloud applications and services. Security can scale alongside cloud migration strategies. Get the guide to SD-WAN security.

Cloud application slowdowns happen in the best of circumstances, but global enterprises can combat these reliability issues with application-by-application visibility and a full stack of monitoring services extending to the network, to the app itself, and also into security. This way, you can avoid the finger pointing and isolate application problems as quickly as possible.

With fully managed SD-WAN services, customers get seamless implementation and 24/7 live support that includes complete network monitoring and equipment management—all billed on a single global invoice. Learn more about managed SD-WAN from Masergy.

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