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Deploying and operating applications in multiple public clouds is critical to many IT leaders, and networking software can help.

Migrating applications to cloud infrastructure requires scale, performance, and, importantly, automation. But achieving them all can be challenging due to limited visibility into that infrastructure. Each IaaS platform has proprietary controls for networking and security that can make multi-cloud operations highly manual and, therefore, time-consuming.

As a result, IT teams can be challenged to quickly resolve application performance issues, protect against external attacks and reduce costs. Their goal should be to combine IaaS resources’ agility with the security, manageability, and control of their physical network.

Networking software installed by enterprise customers within their multi-cloud infrastructure can leverage cloud-native capabilities to provide the enhanced security, visibility, and control they seek. Advances in software networking can enable IT teams, to quickly deploy cloud-based applications via automation and control them by abstracting the native tools each cloud provider packages with its services.

The need for multi-cloud

Multicloud will remain attractive to enterprises because each provider has a unique set of application capabilities, benefits, and development ecosystems that are often optimized for specific user requirements. Also, some applications don’t belong in the cloud because of security or other reasons, so organizations will continue to use on-premises data centers.

Challenges of multi-cloud networking

Cloud providers offer essential tools in three key areas: security, networking, and management and orchestration (MANO). Their security capabilities and controls often must be manually implemented, and their networking requires that their on-ramps and off-ramps—which providers optimize–be specifically routed. Each cloud has its own MANO tools to provide management, visibility, and automation tools that must be set to gain visibility, see, and tune application performance. That means a learning curve and fragmented MANO for enterprise IT teams that support multi-cloud environments.

These factors combine to make many IT operations involving IaaS multi-clouds difficult to scale and the task of troubleshooting performance slowdowns tedious and time-consuming.

Multi-Cloud Networking Requirements

The leading IaaS providers are building new access capabilities at the edge of their networks.  The key to user experience is network performance, which relies on network routing to and from the nearest cloud on-ramp. Leveraging WAN network intelligence is essential to delivering a reliable, high-quality experience between public cloud and end-users applications. Enterprise IT will require the network intelligence to connect to the best IaaS point of presence to accelerate application delivery.

Rapid application deployment to the cloud relies on abstracting the details of the IaaS infrastructure, so IT organizations don’t have to custom build applications to each IaaS provider’s requirements.

A variety of networking suppliers provide network controllers and cloud-based network intelligence to provide abstraction, improve visibility and accelerate application performance.  Network-control software—think Cisco ACI or Aviatrix Transit can provide networking tools to control, troubleshoot and centrally manage the IaaS multi-cloud and avoid developing these tools for each IaaS cloud.  The software can also provide the means to automate manual processes otherwise required to deploy new applications.

With network control software, IT teams can abstract each IaaS network’s unique details to provide consistency across providers. IT can also increase application and data visibility and improve security via automation, segmentation, and better integration with third-party firewalls.

Multi-cloud operations add to network complexity and can limit IT’s ability to control application performance and security. IT teams adapt to the new normal of multi-cloud to take advantage of its ease and simplicity but have to deal with its opaqueness and the lack of control it affords customers.

Network software can abstract each unique IaaS platform operations’ complexity and provide automation to reduce time-consuming manual operations.  IT pros should investigate network controller and cloud-based solutions to reduce multi-cloud complexity.

Disclaimer: I am the author at PLM ECOSYSTEM, focusing on developing digital-thread platforms with capabilities across CAD, CAM, CAE, PLM, ERP, and IT systems to manage the product data lifecycle and connect various industry networks. My opinions may be biased. Articles and thoughts on PLMES represent solely the author's views and not necessarily those of the company. Reviews and mentions do not imply endorsement or recommendations for purchase.

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