No one engaged in today’s digital society can dispute the fact the Cloud has transformed the way we leverage, consume, and interact with technology. The ability to deploy on-demand resources, scale them at will, and utilize these services on a pay-per-use basis has fundamentally shifted operational computing models. Additionally, the elimination of upfront investment, as well as the reduction in operational expenses, have eliminated technological barriers to entry, unleashing a wave of innovative solutions. However, as organizations contemplate their Cloud strategies, there are a few network infrastructure considerations they need to take into account before starting their migration.
Remember to Include Networking Requirements and Cost Considerations
It may seem obvious, but networking is an essential part of any Cloud solution and must form part of an organization’s Cloud migration planning. In every Cloud services model, be it Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), or Software as a Service (SaaS), the responsibility for managing the underlying infrastructure falls to the service provider. Even so, organizations planning their Cloud journey must complete the necessary due diligence and not neglect their networking requirements.
As the network underpins every resource and access to every service, it is an essential component of any Cloud solution. Organizations must consider application dependencies, conduct a baseline analysis, and try to project traffic patterns. This analysis will help ensure their Cloud-based services perform at their expected levels. It can also help them predict their bandwidth consumption cost — an item that organizations often forget to include during the budgeting phase.
Factor in Security Considerations
In a traditional environment, all services and devices reside behind a corporate firewall. Managing access through this hard perimeter is under the direct control of the organization. However, in a Cloud-first mobile world, users, devices, and services operate beyond the firewall. This new way of working has effectively shifted the conventional perimeter from the edge of the corporate network to people and devices. As such, IS departments need to manage device and service authentication tightly to secure distributed environments. When organizations plan their Cloud migration, they must take this new security paradigm into account.
Securing networking infrastructure in a Cloud-first world requires organizations to incorporate security into their network design. Frameworks such as the Zero Trust Extended Ecosystem considers the impact Cloud and mobile has had on information security. It recommends that every device, user, workload, and network be deemed untrusted and that organizations implement measures to secure their data. These recommendations include items such as enforcing authentication everywhere, logging and monitoring all activity and encrypting data. Organizations do not necessarily have to follow every facet of the Zero Trust model, but leveraging its recommendations can help them secure their networks as they execute their Cloud strategy.
Leverage WAN Optimization
Any Cloud migration requires bandwidth, but many organizations often underestimate how much bandwidth is needed. Most organizations adopt a hybrid Cloud strategy in which some services remain on-premise while others move to the Cloud. Even if the organization’s migration end goal is to have every application hosted in the Cloud, during the project they will need to support a hybrid architecture as they migrate workloads. Consequently, they must ensure they have enough bandwidth to provide seamless and uninterrupted communication between on-premise and Cloud workloads.
By implementing WAN optimization solutions, organizations can ensure their network operates without incident and provides the necessary performance needed by a hybrid Cloud architecture. With the utilization of data compression technologies, these solutions help minimize any network latency and remove bottlenecks. As such, they significantly increase transmission speeds between Cloud and on-premise environments.
Implement Continuous Monitoring
Cloud environments operate on a model of shared responsibility. Depending on the Cloud service model chosen, the level of accountability varies. With IaaS the subscriber is responsible for managing everything from the operating system to the application. At the other end of the scale, SaaS subscribers only need to configure their service and manage their data. However, no matter which model they choose, organizations must continually monitor their services. Cloud services are not infallible, and organizations need the necessary insight to identify any issues and resolve them proactively.
Continuously monitoring the state of your network is vital when an organization hosts some or all of their services in the Cloud. As Cloud services are dynamic, tracking metrics such as bandwidth utilization, dropped packets, and network latency is crucial in ensuring peak performance. If an organization is running a hybrid Cloud, monitoring the communication link between the on-premise and Cloud-based services is even more critical. Should the connection fail or underperform for whatever reason, the break in communication could have a severe impact resulting in service interruption.
Ensuring services remain online and available is vital for any business competing in today’s online economy. Any downtime could severely impact their ability to operate and could negatively impact their brand. If customers are unable to access systems, downtime could even affect the organization’s revenue generation capability. Consequently, organizations need to build redundancy into their technology architectures to ensure uninterrupted service for their users and customers.
When architecting solutions for the Cloud, organizations must build high-availability into their system design. Fully redundant Cloud servers, services, and even virtual networks ensure organizations can minimize the risk of downtime. Although Cloud providers are responsible for managing the underlying infrastructure, the subscriber cannot abdicate all responsibility. Even with the best intentions, Cloud service providers still suffer outages from time to time. If an organization’s business model demands guaranteed uptime, then it is their responsibility to configure their Cloud environment accordingly. Additionally, if the organization is operating a hybrid Cloud solution, it must ensure that it builds redundancy into its network design. Multiple links using different transmission mediums and alternate service providers can help create the high-availability essential for hybrid Cloud environments.
Do Not Neglect Networking When Planning Your Cloud Migration
Every Cloud solution should more readily facilitate communication between its users and other IT services. As network infrastructure makes this communication possible, it is vital that it forms part of every solution design. Consequently, as organizations plan their Cloud migrations, they must keep security and high-availability in mind, and continuously monitor their environment to ensure it is operating at peak performance. Finally, they should also consider leveraging WAN optimization to reduce latency and mitigate the risk of any potential bottlenecks that could impact their services.
Coranet is a certified Woman-Owned Information Technology Organization that has been meeting the requirements of Enterprise and Government entities for over 30 years. Network Engineering and Technical Support is part of our foundation and we continue this proud tradition with a 360-degree approach to technology solutions and services in the areas of Audio Visual, Network & Physical Security, IT Infrastructure, and Consulting/Project Management. Coranet is ISO 9001 registered, Lean Six Sigma and WBENC certified.
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