With so many employees in today’s workplace relying on cloud-based apps to perform their jobs, network administrators are looking for better ways to ensure access and provide the required bandwidth. Increasingly, IT professionals are discovering the improved network performance they need in the cloud. Finding the right cloud solution for your specific environment, however, can be challenging, and IT staff often seek guidance from a trusted partner while investigating the technologies available to get the job done.
An experienced partner can be a game-changer and architect a solution based on your organization’s precise needs, and then help you navigate the migration path to the cloud.
Current cloud network technologies – whether software-defined networks (SDNs), software-defined wide area networks (SD-WANs), network function virtualization (NFV), or virtual network functions (VNF) – have one thing in common: They shift networks away from dedicated, single-function hardware at each location toward a software and virtualization model.
With cloud-based networks in place, organizations are much more efficient, flexible, scalable, and easy to administer.
To start building a foundation for making the transition to cloud networking, let’s talk about six common objectives IT personnel can achieve with these related technologies:
1. Ensure availability
The cloud removes the decision-making center (control plane) from the forwarding hardware (data plane), which helps data make it to the correct destination without interruption. These cloud-based solutions allow you to maintain network flows despite link failures, node failures, or other network issues that may occur. If an outage affects the data plane, the control plane can redirect the data flow elsewhere. If an outage affects the control plane, the data plane continues forwarding information without skipping a beat.
2. Reduce costs
By controlling network services and functions available at each data site remotely, IT departments save the costs involved with traveling to each location to install, maintain, and update their network equipment. Also, network administrators can implement VNFs to perform functions specific to the organization’s needs, saving the time typically spent to install or scale complex software manually. Finally, by using cloud-based technologies, companies eliminate significant capital expenditures when they need to expand or revamp their network. Instead, they enjoy a predictable monthly operating expense based on usage.
3. Centralize management
IT staff can implement, maintain, and upgrade software functions and services from anywhere around the world via a centralized dashboard. Your software instances do not just run on the cloud; they are the cloud.
4. Increase agility
All of the cloud-based technologies grant IT departments the ability to ensure their organization stays relevant as networks evolve and competitors adopt new ways to improve network performance. With these technologies, network administrators can download, move, upgrade, remove, activate, deactivate, and scale up or down any VNF at any time, with ease.
5. Eliminate vendor lock-in
Each of these network technologies is software-based and virtualized, performing functions that were formerly executed on proprietary, dedicated hardware. The transition to cloud-based technologies means companies can run their networks on open source, commodity hardware, which allows IT professionals to choose the right hardware for their business needs.
6. Future-proof the network
The risks of running an organization’s network on outdated technology keeps IT professionals and corporate management teams up at night. Outdated systems and software lead to network instability, increased downtime, and loss of productivity. They also open up vulnerabilities in security or falling behind the competition. With cloud-based solutions, network systems and software are continually refreshed and updated, and can flex with business activity. Centralized control means administrators can instantly adjust scale by assigning appropriate, policy-based server resources and priorities to the VNF.
Understanding the common goals of today’s network technologies is a starting point for IT professionals looking to transform their networks to meet business objectives. Each technology has its strengths, but at the core, they all use the cloud to allow organizations to stay agile, control data from anywhere on the globe, and ultimately reduce a company’s capital expenditures while improving performance.