As businesses transition to cloud architectures based around AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and other providers, it’s important that corporate IT teams maintain control and visibility. Businesses must be able to manage their cloud network as though it were a part of their WAN without sacrificing the associated conveniences. That requirement is driving the WAN edge to support more than what it used to: multicloud access, secure connectivity, availability anywhere, and more. Businesses that equip their WAN edge with the right infrastructure gain control and visibility over their cloud networks. They will also drive costs down and be able to offer their stakeholders so much more through greater convenience and increased resiliency.
1) SASE: Security has a symmetrical relationship with convenience. As applications, egress points and bandwidth speeds increase with cloud adoption, security must keep up or the architecture risks collapse. Automating security policies and controls must be simple, and this simplicity is what defines the Secure Access Service Edge (SASE)—where networking convenience in SD-WAN and security convenience in cloud-delivered and cloud-managed models converge.
2) Multicloud On-Ramp: The cloud is convenient because traditional physical infrastructure, maintenance and upkeep no longer burden stakeholders. Yet, corporate IT teams must be able to ensure service level agreements (SLAs) from WAN locations and remote endpoints. Multicloud on-ramp capabilities in software-defined architectures (SD-WAN) can help. On-ramps help to place a corporate IT networking presence within AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and other IaaS environments, extending policies and service capabilities all the way to the application itself. The pandemic has made delivering consistent, high-quality SaaS application experiences critical, and so the automation and insights included with multicloud on-ramp should also extend to SaaS applications such as Webex, Microsoft 365 and Salesforce. As a result of these capabilities, corporate IT teams gain newfound control over their cloud environments.
3) 5G Readiness: When businesses embrace the cloud, they must ensure that stakeholder experience does not suffer as a result. If measures to ensure consistency are not considered, then the business can suffer widespread outages and lost revenue. One impactful measure to ensure application consistency is to incorporate link flexibility in cloud networking. Link flexibility provides your stakeholders multiple connectivity options, such as broadband, satellite and cellular, no matter if they are using cloud applications remotely or in WAN locations. SD-WAN automates this link selection and gives corporate IT teams the ability to set performance benchmarks around loss, latency and jitter so that the WAN edge knows the most optimal route to the cloud. When it comes to the links themselves, LTE has moved from a backup option to a cost-effective, multi-gigabit method of cloud connectivity that extends to areas where broadband cannot, providing for the development of wireless WANs. 5G is the latest in cellular technology, with Sub 6Ghz and mmWave varieties providing even greater speeds and applications experiences.
4) A WAN Edge: As WAN branches open to the internet, the idea of a network perimeter disappears. Businesses enabling a WAN edge forego the traditional hub-and-spoke model where branches backhaul traffic to core locations, opting for direct internet access (DIA) to the cloud instead. A WAN edge can be challenging to architects thanks to the diversity of branch locations. WAN branches range from a modest office to a busy mall retail shop; a redesigned smart grocery store; a pharmaceutical lab; to a sensitive government embassy. The WAN Edge also includes traffic from remote workers, which demands that policies and security expectations extend to their home offices, coffee shops, stadiums, and wherever else one might check a business-critical SaaS application on their smartphone. A WAN edge platform offers flexibility to service the location where it sits. Despite the location disparity within a WAN edge, there are some common requirements: the ability to consolidate and deploy network functions—such as routing, switching, security and optimization—in one platform; the ability to verify device integrity and operability to ensure privacy across the cloud networking fabric; and in locations with high traffic that’s nothing less than critical, a custom Network Processor Unit (NPU).
Cloud networks can be complicated for companies to get right. But with the right WAN edge infrastructure, businesses can retain control and visibility across their WAN and into the cloud. Equipping your business to support technological solutions like SASE, multicloud access, and 5G will help automate, secure and simplify your cloud network. Check out how Cisco is helping customers with their cloud networking journeys today!
This content is sponsored by Cisco.
— Pat Vitalone, Product Marketing Manager, Routing and SD-WAN, Cisco