In just a few months time, IT has shifted the focus of its digital transformation projects from business agility to improving business resiliency. Granted, high priority hybrid cloud/data center projects that focus on improving access to new markets and enhancing customer experiences are still important. In fact, IDC predicts continued double digit growth in infrastructure digital transformation spend in 2020.* But the sudden changes forced on organizations by the latest black swan event dramatically reveal the necessity of keeping core business operations available and connected during massive shifts in workforce and workloads.

The urgent need to securely connect people to applications from anywhere at anytime stress-tested data center and cloud connectivity preparedness. While many organizations responded with inventive solutions, the lessons learned from the experience can help IT prepare for inevitable future challenges. For example, even though IT teams have been diligently working on supporting the growing need for distributed and cloud-native applications, the multitude of public cloud APIs and connectivity options slows deployment. The lesson learned? When emergencies strike, IT must already be prepared to rapidly connect data center resources and cloud applications to a distributed workforce. The network is the crucial foundation to deliver business resiliency, disaster avoidance, and recovery.  

The Data Center Cloud Network as Business Resiliency Enabler

Preparing for disasters and black swans aside, there are operational reasons that business resiliency depends on secure and dependable network connectivity between public and private clouds.

  • According to the 2020 IDC FutureScape for cloud report, by 2021 over 90% of enterprises worldwide will rely on a mix of on-premise/dedicated private clouds, several public clouds, and legacy platforms to meet their infrastructure needs.** 
  • Building out data center infrastructure on-demand is time-consuming compared to spinning up cloud services, but cloud access must have secure connectivity to a distributed workforce from day one.
  • Connecting multiple private data centers to create regional zones for redundancy, recovery, and availability requires secure reliable connections over public infrastructure.
  • An increasing dependency on applications built as distributed containers and microservices depends on network connections being resilient and reliable.
  • Having the agility to deploy and move bare metal, VMs, and container-based applications from and to on-premise data centers, colocation, edge locations, and public cloud instances enhances an organization’s ability to adapt to changes in operations and levels of application utilization.
  • DevOps needs the ability to develop and deploy new apps and updates using cloud native tools and infrastructure-as-code deployment models available in public clouds—and increasingly in private clouds.
  • Conversely, IT needs the flexibility to repatriate workloads to on-premise data centers if the TCO shows better cost for apps running at steady scale.

Enterprise IT teams that plan ahead to support data center connectivity can quickly reap the rewards — as showcased by Societe Generale’s experience.

Network Architecture, Security, Reliability, and Automation at Societe Generale

“We needed our infrastructure to catch up to compute in terms of agility, so we introduced DevOps principles to the data center networking team” reports Thomas Mouilleseaux, global head of network architecture, security, reliability, and automation at Societe Generale. The “network as code” philosophy and a desire to deliver Infrastructure-as-a-Service led Societe Generale to deploy Cisco ACI in its UK data center and later connect multiple data centers in France using a Cisco ACI Multi-Site design. The financial services company is in the process of extending the network architecture to its regional data centers in the Czech Republic and the United States.
“Cisco ACI is supporting roughly 1000 leaves on a number of large underlay fabrics, and all of the policies are consistent,” states Vivien Strady, global head of data center and network at Societe Generale, noting that the fabrics host physical server, private cloud, and big data environments. “That type of standardization and software-defined automation is important for operational efficiency, knowledge sharing, and business agility—on a global scale.” ***

Prepare Now for Business Resiliency and the Future of Cloud Application Deployment

To prepare for the future resiliency challenges, IT needs to plan, pilot, and build secure cloud interconnects between public and private clouds–now. Connecting data centers and public clouds securely and economically requires the use of encrypted connections over the public internet. While creating those links can take a few weeks to set up, once configured they can be made available and scaled-out as needed with a few clicks from the data center cloud network manager.

IT can cost-effectively build cloud-to-cloud and DC-to-cloud connectivity using Cisco Multi-Site Orchestrator and a Cisco DCN Advantage subscription for on-premise and cloud. To start, the Cisco Nexus 9000 switch portfolio provides modern data center fabrics capable of using secure CloudSec or IPSec tunnels to connect public and private clouds. Next, spin-up a Cisco Cloud Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) to create a control-point in the public cloud. Turn on Cisco Multi-Site Orchestrator (MSO) to interconnect the data center fabrics  between on-premises and public clouds. MSO facilitates secure connectivity and consistent policies among multi-site public and private clouds. 

With minimal additional investment in time and software, built on your existing infrastructure of Nexus data centers, you can create a redundant, regionally distributed infrastructure for resiliency and disaster recovery. With secure connections among public and private clouds in place, NetOps can deliver the urgently needed cloud highway and on-ramps for highly-distributed applications, with the ability to move data and apps as workloads change over time or to react quickly to operational emergencies.

Data center resiliency and disaster preparedness is within your reach. Prepare today for a more secure and resilient tomorrow.

For more information on secure Data Center Networking, view the Cisco Live presentation Multicloud Networking for ACI and NX-OS Enabled Data Center Fabrics – DLBTEC-52

Visit the Cisco Cloud ACI web site for more information on multi-cloud connectivity.

Take advantage of these Cisco Cloud ACI and Application Service Engine promotions to accelerate hybrid cloud connectivity and management.


*IDC Spending Guide Shows Continued Growth for Digital Transformation in 2020, Despite the Challenges Presented by the COVID-19 Pandemic

**2020 IDC FutureScape

***Cisco Case Study: Societe Generale


Thomas Scheibe

Vice President, Product Management

Cloud Networking