In this installment of our 2021 Networking Trends blog series, we discuss Trend #3 – Facilitating multicloud for greater resilience
Networking after a disruption
If you’ve ever been through a natural disaster, once things start to recover, it’s generally common practice to assess what happened and how things might have been handled differently. We usually think about steps we could have taken to prepare better, and we ponder the ‘what-ifs’ for future scenarios, followed by promises to be more proactive next time.
Networking after a disruption is no different…or is it? It’s similar in that we’ve all been evaluating our networks in preparation for future disruptions, but it’s vastly different from a personal incident because our response is felt across the entire enterprise.
Re-thinking networking for resilience
For this reason, it’s imperative that we consider how our networks enable the business to be resilient in the face of disruptions. Networking for resilience is about strategically implementing those networking capabilities that help your organization absorb and adapt to any disruption. As our latest 2021 Global Networking Trends Report: Business Resilience Special Edition points out, there are four important areas to consider: workforce, workplace, workloads, and operations. Now, I’ll share some thoughts on Workloads and how a multicloud strategy is essential for putting the right secure and agile infrastructure in place to support multiple cloud services.
In particular, I want to explore five different considerations when you’re building your multicloud strategy as it relates to business resilience:
1. Uptime isn’t enough
One might surmise that network availability and reliability metrics are the answer to supporting business resilience. And while those KPIs are critical, they are only table stakes of networking for resilience strategy. Networking for resilience expands beyond having a network that’s always available, to having a network that has the agility, automation, and intelligence to help the organization adapt to whatever the future brings. Take for example an organization that needs to support workload portability in the instance that you need to shift your call center to a new region. In this case, it’s not that the network experienced an outage. The question is whether your architecture has the flexibility and agility to move the workloads to that region, maintaining secure access and compliance.
2. ‘Applications first’ networking model
Applications and workloads are becoming more distributed across on-prem and cloud platforms. Complicating the matter is that application teams are managing between the old world of monolithic applications and traditional on-prem data centers and the new world of microservices-based applications, containers, SaaS, and cloud PaaS. What does this have to do with the network? Everything. In a new IDC whitepaper, Brad Casemore says “The distributed application is the new center of gravity for networking.” * Because the network is the critical conduit that provides the transport of data back and forth, we must look at ways our network infrastructure provides the consistency, security, and performance that optimizes the application experience—wherever the workloads and users are located.
Figure 1. What’s needed for multicloud to work as one
3. Hybrid workloads are the way forward
It’s important to remember that hybrid workload environments will be the way forward for many organizations. In the 2020 Global Networking Trends Report, Vijoy Pandey, Vice President and CTO of the Cloud Platform and Solutions Group at Cisco, says, “Over the last few years, as valuable workloads attempted to migrate to the public cloud, it became apparent that it wasn’t a binary situation and there were some workloads, and critically, some data, that needed to be local.” While managing a hybrid workload environment may add complexity, the ability to offload or scale-up critical workloads during a disruption adds vital flexibility needed for business resilience. A multicloud strategy must ensure your infrastructure provides consistent policy, secure access, and performance across on-prem and the multicloud environment.
4. Comprehensive observability is a strategic capability
When an employee must call the help desk because they are experiencing issues and can’t access the application they need, it’s paramount to have the right visibility to get to root causes quickly. This capability is even more essential when the business is trying to adapt during a time of disruption. Network operators need to know when the issue is coming from the device, home or coffee shop network, access point, application, ISP or cloud provider, or the campus network. Recently, our ThousandEyes solution saw sharp global spikes in both Internet and cloud service disruptions in March through June 2020. An essential component of a multicloud strategy is to ensure you have the right observability – from users to applications – so you’re not flying blind when you need detection the most.
Figure 2. ISP and cloud provider outages chart
5. Operational strategy must keep up
While modernizing your network with the latest automation and assurance capabilities offered by intent-based controllers, a successful multicloud strategy must not overlook the significance of making sure your operational model keeps pace to align with the new technologies. IDC predicts that, by 2023, 55% of enterprises will replace outdated operational models with cloud-centric models that allow for better alignment between IT operations and public cloud operations and facilitate organizational collaboration, resulting in better business outcomes.* Our old ways of managing the network in silos simply won’t be sustainable in the future.
Networking for resilience resources
Clearly, the cloud is changing everything from digital transformation to networking for resilience. And getting the right multicloud strategy in place will help our organizations be prepared to face whatever the future brings.
To learn more about preparing your network to enable business resilience, please check out these complimentary resources:
- Report: 2021 Global Networking Trends Report: Business Resilience Special Edition
- Register for a Multicloud Networking Webinar
- Webinar recording: Build resilience with the top 5 networking trends for 2021
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*IDC Brad Casemore, Meeting the Challenge of Multicloud Networking: Optimizing Cloud Workloads and Application Experience
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