Cloud networking, also called cloud-based networking, involves building a network using cloud services rather than dedicated hardware. It relies on virtualization, with virtualized routers, firewalls, and bandwidth to enable a fully software-defined approach to networking. Cloud networking offers a number of advantages, especially for organizations with a sizable mobile workforce or a large geographic footprint that is subject to regular change.
Cloud networking is a form of IT infrastructure wherein some or all of an organization’s network resources are hosted on cloud platforms. These cloud platforms may be public, private or a hybrid combination of both. In addition to containing virtualized network appliances such as routers, the cloud network also features cloud-hosted network management software. This way, the network can be managed from the cloud. But moreover, the user gets centralized security, management, control, and visibility over the network. That amounts to IT efficiency and agility–they can manage devices situated in different physical locations over the internet. Typically, a third-party service provider operates cloud networking resources for the client. This provider may also offer connections to a cloud-based Wide Area Network (WAN).
The cloud network model can have an infinite variety of implementation architectures. Variations include the degree of cloud-based versus traditional network infrastructure, public versus private cloud platforms, and so forth. There are also different types of cloud networks in service today. Some are designed for corporate network use cases. Others may be established to serve the needs of telecom carriers. Others still are configured for the unique requirements of the Internet of Things (IoT), connected vehicles, factory automation or smart cities.
See how companies are redefining the WAN in the age of hybrid multi-clouds. Read this guide from Nemertes Research.
A good cloud network is one that offers a high degree of agility. If it has “software-defined everything” that typically means elements are hosted in the cloud and available on demand. An effective cloud network makes it possible to set up, change, add or delete network segments in a far more rapid cycle than would be possible with conventional gear. The right cloud network will also include simplified segmentation and essentially endless Virtual Private Network (VPN) capabilities. The cloud network model makes it easy to segment networks for security purposes. For example, it is easier to segment guest WiFi from the employee network using a cloud-based network. Cloud-based VPNs are also simpler, faster and cheaper to set up and change than their on-premises counterparts.
There has been some confusion about the differences between a cloud WAN and an SD-WAN. This is understandable, as the two concepts are similar and overlap, but still differ. An SD-WAN applies software-defined networking (SDN) principles to a WAN. This means it uses software to implement WAN functionality. By uncoupling networking hardware from control mechanisms, the WAN management is simplified. After all, WAN components are easily manipulated via software–when compared to hardware. Learn more about SD-WAN in Masergy’s guide to SD-WAN.
According to industry analysts at Gartner, an SD-WAN should have the following characteristics:
Getting back to the question, WAN and SD-WAN functions may or may not be cloud-based. Network functionality can be hosted in a range of different infrastructure types.
A cloud WAN or cloud SD-WAN are–you guessed it–cloud hosted. For example, cloud SD-WAN has the four properties outlined above, and it runs on a cloud platform.
Done right, cloud networking delivers positive outcomes for enterprise IT. The model enables faster delivery of content as well as better reliability and security—all without the capital investment (CapEx) required with traditional networks. With the appropriate cloud management tools in place, a cloud network also makes it easier to monitor devices and IT operations in real time. Network security issues rise to the attention of network managers more quickly, as well. In the end, investors get many upsides:
Don’t miss our help guide, Enabling cloud migration and solving traditional network problems.
Masergy establishes managed SD-WAN connections between top cloud service providers (CSPs) and your employees, no matter where they are located. This gives CIOs the option of creating networks to multiple CSPs such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure (along with Microsoft 365), Salesforce and a long list of other critical business applications.
While many providers offer direct connections today, here’s how Masergy does it better: We offer direct connections to multiple CSPs on a single network circuit from one location.
That capability is made possible by our active-active configurations for cloud services. This is unique because, rather than using multiple separate circuits to connect to each CSP, Masergy can leverage one single circuit to connect to a slew of CSPs. This efficiency reduces the client’s overall IT complexity while still maintaining enterprise-grade performance.
Assuming SLAs don’t matter in the cloud is a common mistake. There is a lack of understanding of how SLAs intersect with cloud services and applications. Network service providers, for example, are responsible for the data transfer until the exact moment the traffic is handed over to a public cloud provider like AWS. “Yet most providers don’t offer any cloud SLAs committing to a high level of performance,” says Terry Traina, CTO at Masergy. “Every service is an opportunity for an SLA, and the contract should cover that entire ground.”
Masergy solutions are also designed for proactive security risk mitigation. By default, all Masergy cloud networks built with Managed SD-WAN Secure have the Shadow IT Discovery feature enabled. Shadow IT Discovery automatically finds all cloud applications on a corporate network then gives a risk score from 1 to 5 to each app, providing the real-time visibility from the cloud to corporate IT so they can instantly identify potential cybersecurity issues.
Masergy operates three Network Operations Centers (NOCs) and Security Operations Centers (SOCs) on three continents, along with a team of highly skilled engineers. Our SD-WAN clients’ networks are monitored 24/7.
Cloud SLAs are unheard of, really. So, why would you want this?
Cloud SLAs help enterprises ensure a more consistent and high-quality AWS or SaaS service. When the network carrying your traffic to the CSP is a global software-defined network designed with consistent architectural standards, that means clients gain a more stable, dependable, and unwavering service experience all around the world. When app users are scattered across many locations that can make a difference in ensuring operational consistency and global business continuity.
A key advantage of SD-WAN is the ability to automatically detect network conditions then route application traffic along an optimal route for a predictable level of performance. Masergy let’s you do that in the cloud. When you pair Masergy’s Managed SD-WAN Secure solutions with Multi-Cloud Connectivity, you can leverage active-active network configurations for cloud service providers, enhancing application performance.
Plus, users get real-time analytics and self-service controls, with the ability to provision virtual connections quickly through the service’s portal. Admins can turn connections up and down with relative ease. Add-on security services are available for threat monitoring and response. Multi-Cloud Connectivity further bolsters cloud security posture with unique in-path security that includes cloud firewalls and global routing from any site.
What is SD-WAN and why is it driving a new era in WAN advancement? Explore how new solutions are helping enterprises migrate to the cloud and solve traditional WAN problems.
Remote work is redefining the WAN, so what is needed now? Nemertes Research explores SD-WAN, cloud security, and secure remote access.
Power your digital transformation with flexible solutions that improve cloud application performance and increase agility. Learn more about Masergy's SD-WAN Secure.