Hybrid cloud is becoming the go-to approach to cloud because it gives enterprises the best of both private and public cloud. They gain the security and reliability of private cloud for mission-critical data and applications, while also benefitting from the cost-efficiency and flexibility of public cloud. According to a 451 Research survey, 69% of enterprises will have multi-cloud/hybrid IT environments by 2019.
As enterprises reap the rewards of their migration, they are putting more of their operations into services like Microsoft Azure, Alibaba Cloud and Amazon Web Services. In some organisations, the various business units might be using a different cloud for their service and managing multiple clouds may limit an enterprise’s agility, scalability and efficiency. Without a multi-cloud strategy, enterprises will find it harder to scale and deploy new services.
Having a multi-cloud strategy makes sense for both small and medium-sized enterprises and multinational enterprises across industry. The benefits come from building greater resilience, power of choice and flexibility when managing workloads. However, the main challenge is to efficiently connect these environments on a global scale. Connecting directly to each cloud service provider (CSP) and data centre location globally is costly, making it increasingly difficult to manage as more data and services are moved into a multi-cloud environment.
Managing connectivity to multiple CSPs requires skills, human capital and time. Each vendor has different processes and platforms which can place more strain on an enterprise’s internal operations. Furthermore, the IT team will need to have the technical know-hows on each cloud to effectively run a multi-cloud Environment. Deploying and scaling new services quickly can be a challenge if each cloud is managed and connected by a different network provider.
The cost management of multi-cloud can also put additional stress on an enterprise with each CSP having its own billing system, pricing model and payment options. It can become difficult to navigate and monitor costs in the long term. Without an effective model to monitor each environment, cost can easily become out of control and unmanageable.
A wide multi-cloud environment may offer more choices in managing workloads, but it also opens enterprises up to wider range of security breaches, cyber-attacks and vulnerabilities. Implementing security protocols and procedures is another time-consuming task that may require the enterprises’ IT team to upskill.
For enterprises today, the benefit of having a multi-cloud strategy is obvious but a major change is needed across the business operations. These stumbling blocks not only limit the full potential of cloud, but also adds complexity to an enterprise’s network. Enterprises must find a way to integrate and connect the various clouds into a single environment. This will free the enterprise from complexities as they add and deploy new capabilities in the cloud.
Software-defined networking (SDN) can solve many connectivity challenges today including cloud connectivity. It gives them a way to simplify management of their cloud connectivity whilst optimising network costs and accelerating their cloud adoption. Through a single platform, they could easily connect multiple cloud environments and interconnect data centre locations globally as they grow their business and reach new customers.
Instead of putting spends towards upskilling workers or hiring new IT roles, enterprises can train existing staff to use an SDN platform to provision connectivity to the various cloud environments. It enables them to connect to multiple public CSPs as well as destinations globally using a simple interface. This will free up more time and resources to innovate new services and put more investments towards other aspects of the business.
While SDN may not be the answer to all problems, it gives enterprises the capabilities to bridge the gap in connecting the clouds with greater scalability, visibility and security. For enterprises, the success of a multi-cloud strategy can be defined by an automated process where private connectivity can be established on multiple clouds and scaled across regions at minimal cost and complexity. The programmability of SDN enables this possibility and is able to provide visibility in managing the clouds. Ultimately, the underlying infrastructure has to be a robust and truly global network to support the SDN platform.
It is possible for enterprises to gain full control over their multi-cloud environment and use a network infrastructure that best suit their business objectives. They do not have to worry about the costs and complexities associated with scaling the network for connectivity to the cloud. This simplifies their access to multiple CSPs and allows them to adjust and adapt their cloud environment to their needs as they change over time.
With the right SDN platform, enterprises can maximise the potential of multi-cloud and accelerate their growth with new applications and services.
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