In the pursuit of cloud excellence, many organizations have settled for cloud networks that are adequate at best. This will usually cause a ripple effect of dissatisfaction; for example, if your network is too slow to implement changes, you might test the patience of your developers. If you lack visibility and management controls, then you may struggle to assure C-suite executives when asked about usage, performance, and availability.
So, why do enterprises put up with it? Well, many cloud networking teams believe that achieving excellence will be too costly and too difficult – but that’s not actually the case.
The tools and skills required are more accessible than you might think. Here are six ways to help your cloud networking team up their game.
1) Prepare for multi-cloud
If you haven’t made the inevitable transition to multi-cloud yet, then you should take the opportunity to prepare for it. Start defining a secure multi-cloud network architecture as soon as you can to help prevent any backtracking or workarounds. You can also build consistency across the clouds from the get-go, allowing you to hit the ground running with automation, reporting, and much more.
You could even consider learning Terraform and standing up a multi-cloud architecture in a test environment. With just a little time and money, you can create a cost-effective sandbox for you to practice with.
2) Achieve complete operational visibility and control
One of the biggest blockers to cloud excellence is a lack of visibility. A 360° view of your entire multi-cloud network will give you access to powerful information about the network itself and the overall business, including where things are growing and where you’ll need to scale.
While it’s true that cloud providers have their own dashboards and native tools, they aren’t designed with multi-cloud in mind, so they just won’t be as useful as a purpose-built cloud networking platform. Instead, you need both raw and visual data so that you can show how well the network is running.
Furthermore, having complete visibility is a good way to gain the trust of leaders and users. Without it, you’ll find yourself clambering to deal with issues that staff outside of the IT department are reporting to you. But with visibility, you can demonstrate proactivity; if you spot issues before they have to be flagged to you, you can reassure them that you're already working on them.
3) Don’t compromise on performance or security
Cloud providers usually have basic VPNs that give you adequate security and performance. However, as we already know, ‘adequate’ is not always enough.
While native constructs for internet ingress and egress get the job done, you lose context on the origin of the traffic and end up with a complex configuration. Fortunately for enterprises, there are several advanced solutions available that can solve this.
High-performance networking with enterprise security compliance is eminently possible in the cloud, so you don’t have to make trade-offs between protection and productivity.
Centralized policies for internet ingress and egress maintain visibility via policy-based firewall insertions at a central point, meaning you don’t need network address translations to maintain symmetry.
A cloud networking platform handles all the flows and ensures that each individual flow goes to and from the same firewall, preventing flows from breaking. Embedding security in the network avoids the additional latency and bandwidth requirements that result from forcing all traffic through a security device.
4) Prepare for real-world challenges
Cloud decisions are often business decisions, not IT; the cloud networking team may decide on one cloud, but requests for changes can come in at any time from other business units, partners, and acquisitions.
For example, new customers or clouds may cause conflicts between overlapping IP addresses, or, post-acquisition, you might find that you need to segment a customer off from your production environment due to advanced security requirements.
5) Socialize with management
Leadership support is imperative to getting you the resources needed for a robust cloud network, so how do you win them over?
You need to tell a compelling story about the value of network improvements that lift you above the clouds. A great way to tell it is to show it, so consider giving a demo of your sandbox environment and the dynamic topology mapping that’s possible when connecting two clouds together – you’ll just need a cloud networking platform that can support this.
6) Explore your options
Find a platform that can support you through your multi-cloud journey and take the weight off your cloud networking team’s shoulders.
Specifically, you need a platform that can help you do more with your people resources. Rather than hire an expert for each cloud, abstract away the cloud complexity and keep your team lean and agile. There’s no expectation for the team to go it alone!
John Gonsalves is Principal Field Evangelist at Aviatrix.