If you think about it, the cloud is all about connectivity. In some nebulous place, a vast pool of data or computing power exists. To be of value, it must provide data or processing resources quickly. Otherwise why bother? Nobody would pay for the cloud if it ended up being much slower than having the same services available internally.
Here are some of the top trends in cloud networking for 2022:
The great challenge of cloud networking
Businesses today are exploring how to build applications that leverage IoT, mobile connectivity, and artificial intelligence (AI) at scale. According to most surveys, they plan to deploy such applications in the next five years. But at the same time, they admit that they would develop and deploy such applications much sooner if they could demonstrate the ability to deliver more products at lower costs with higher reliability. The power of cloud networking gets in the way.
“While it may be an easy decision to deploy a proof of concept or lightweight mobile application in the public cloud, more mission-critical, life-sustaining, and data-intensive applications will likely require hybrid multi-cloud deployments,” said Mike Mulica, CEO at alf.
“These aren’t 1-2 cloud deployments; There are private and public clouds in the mid to high single digits, so cloud (inter)connectivity performance is paramount.”
There is a growing number of applications where architecture, cloud and infrastructure decisions become critical at the application design stage. Due to the complexity of multi-cloud interactions, connectivity must be present for the application to be successful.
“Such connectivity must meet critical design considerations, and this is where intent-based networking becomes important,” said Alef.
Intent-based networking specifies connections and properties without knowing exactly how that connection is made. It is a software-assisted automation process that uses a high level of intelligence, analysis, and orchestration to improve network operations and uptime. Cloud networking must include intent-based networking if it is to rise to the challenge.
In addition to intent-based networking, the challenges of modern cloud architectures require another change in traditional networking. Known as deterministic networking, it involves the implementation of deterministic data paths for real-time applications with extremely low data loss rates, packet delay variations (jitter), and limited latency.
Intent-based and deterministic networks are key for companies to accelerate the development and implementation of industrial automation applications,” said Alef.
As the network grows, clouds become more complex, and networking becomes more mission-critical, security becomes more important. A major trend, therefore, is that network managers are being pushed out of their rigidly defined box to take on a broader range of responsibilities, most notably network security.
They may protest that they are dealing with networks, not security. But just as many other areas of IT have grown together, the worlds of network and security are inextricably linked. Network professionals today need little more than a cursory knowledge of security protocols and best practices. They need to be able to set up secure networks instead of waiting for security specialists to clean up their mess after the fact.
This trend is easy to see when you look at network management courses today compared to a decade ago. The amount of security data today dwarfs what network professionals once needed to know.
SASE fills the gap
Of course, there are many security technologies that are closely related to networks. Intrusion Prevention/Detection Systems, Secure Web Gateway (SWG), Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB), Zero Trust Network Architecture (ZTNA) and Firewall-as-a-Service (FWaaS) technologies are just a few examples. But having so many separate tools to monitor the security of the network can play into the hands of the bad guys. If these tools don’t work together and don’t allow for integrated management and monitoring, alerts can go unnoticed. The consequences can be cruel.
According to Dell’Oro Group, Security Services Edge (SSE) fills the gap by providing a way to centrally and effectively manage these disparate tools. The SSE market grew 40% year-on-year and reached $800 million in revenue in Q1 2022. SSE includes a variety of security and network elements including cloud-delivered SWG, CASB, ZTNA, FWaaS, and more.
“We have identified SSE as a first basket of four cloud-delivered security technologies that underpin security in SASE,” said Mauricio Sanchez, Research Director, Network Security, and SASE & SD-WAN at Dell’Oro Group.
“In the age of distributed applications and hybrid work, companies increasingly prefer cloud-based security over traditional on-premises solutions.”