20th May 2024

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Technology and Computer

Multi-Cloud Networking: Not Your Traditional Networking

Cofounder and CEO at Prosimo—giving customers a true multi-cloud infrastructure strategy to deliver fast, secure and cost-optimized apps.

In a multi-cloud world, networks are no longer just collections of routers, switches and firewalls connecting endpoints. Instead, they are complex meshes of multiple cloud services, APIs and disparate endpoints that must communicate seamlessly across different cloud environments. Traditional networking expertise falls short in this new paradigm because it assumes that those endpoints can inherently communicate with each other. After all, how do you manage, monitor and secure apps inside somebody else’s cloud?

A 2022 report from Virtana researchers reveals that nearly 80% of enterprises deploy workloads in more than three public clouds. In a multi-cloud world, each cloud provider is concerned about its own ecosystem—not how its services integrate with other clouds. This creates a situation in which two services from different clouds may struggle to communicate, even though they can interact flawlessly within their respective environments. Traditional IP networking does not work—a “translator” layer is needed to enable these cross-cloud conversations and bridge the gap between cloud providers’ services and endpoints to give enterprises a single source of truth across their entire IT footprint.

For example, organizations may have a database in AWS and an AI service in Azure. In this case, Amazon and Microsoft concentrate on optimizing their own services with little regard for the other. Multi-cloud networking assures that these two services understand each other.

The role of firewalls in cloud networking also diverges from traditional networking practices. Traditionally, firewalls ensured all traffic leaving the data center passed through a central checkpoint before exiting. However, traffic patterns are more complex in the cloud, with services communicating within the same cloud, across clouds and through combinations of cloud and on-premises resources.

In this environment, firewalls need to adapt and understand the context of each traffic flow to determine whether they should be involved in the communication path. This contextual awareness is a fundamental shift from the traditional firewall’s role as a central gatekeeper.

The Need To Combine Networking And Cloud Skills

The next generation of multi-cloud networking calls for a new mix of technical skills. Developers and programmers who build highly automated cloud-native applications often lack the foundational networking principles necessary to create a robust and secure infrastructure. Conversely, experienced networking professionals may need help embracing the agility, observability and automation requirements of multi-cloud networking while factoring in business requirements and priorities.

The teams likely to see the most success will find ways to cross-breed those skills, combining solid networking architects with skilled automation engineers to create a robust yet agile multi-cloud networking foundation. Many enterprises also adopt an organizational structure with a dedicated cloud networking team working with a cloud center of excellence (CCoE) team focused on agility and speed.

The Foundation Of Multi-Cloud Networking Success

Because multi-cloud networking is built around a collection of endpoints rather than a collection of networks, it presents some particular challenges, including connectivity, security, privacy and costs. The best way to start is with one overall network that spans multiple clouds. This approach gives you the flexibility to add greenfield cloud regions or modify brownfield regions built with native services. Starting with a foundation that works across any cloud establishes a connectivity layer on which to build everything else.

Conclusion

Traditional networking laid the groundwork for systems to connect and communicate. Today’s multi-cloud networking environment is the latest iteration, requiring new approaches and expanded skills. It provides a way to keep up with every innovation and service each cloud provider introduces. Too often, companies can find an expert in AWS, but if that same person has to work with Azure, they have to relearn the terminology and limitations of a new cloud provider.


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