Every industry is going through a rapid transformation to deliver new digital services for employees, partners, and customers that improve operational efficiency, customer experiences and create competitive advantages. To enable this, enterprises are building DevOps teams that leverage cloud-native architectures to modernize application frameworks with microservices and containers. This is also driving the adoption of cloud computing services, as monolithic infrastructure approaches cannot keep up with the speed and scale that enterprises now require.
This creates a new paradigm for enterprises, as DevOps need to quickly and reliably build, test, and distribute applications that are fast, secure, and in compliance. This fact has created the need for autonomous multi-cloud networking that brings alignment to disparate teams.
Disparate Teams, Talent Gaps, and Lack of Unified Cloud Strategy Creates Challenges
As we saw with the adoption of SaaS, teams and business units that operate independently of IT are creating a problem that we have come to know as Shadow IT. Like Shadow IT, Cloud Shadows — the modern cloud variation — is now recurring in the cloud-native world with DevOps, as business units are driving the rollout of new applications with no consistency, in some cases unbeknownst to security, infrastructure, and operations teams. Enterprises are struggling to find an easy way for traditionally siloed teams across the organization to work together to deliver powerful application experiences. This requires enterprises to find a way to simplify cloud operations, enforce consistent security policies, modernize applications and enable infrastructure transformation.
However, enterprises are also facing a talent gap with a shortage of professionals in cybersecurity and cloud IT, especially as it pertains to multi-cloud. While many enterprises have experience using cloud services from one provider, many lack experience with more than one cloud, even as each cloud service provider (CSP) rolls out compelling capabilities to drive business value.
As such, this challenge inevitably brings the focus of DevOps teams to infrastructure: DevOps and Ops teams, regardless of the business unit, need a way to more easily and consistently deploy and manage infrastructure, because infrastructure has become such a fundamental pillar of application experience. While DevOps teams may very well collaborate with infrastructure teams, the infrastructure itself is now in the purview of operations.
Legacy Networking Approaches Creates Blind Spots
Of course, the place that enterprises start this journey is with cloud networking: how they connect to the cloud in the first place. Due to the familiarity, many enterprises start with legacy networking technology and strategies such as private WAN, IPsec overlays, and remote access VPNs. However, legacy networking technology was built for a much more static world in which connections between client and server were mostly consistent. This reluctance has resulted in many enterprises tackling multi-cloud networking by cobblestoning some combination of manual practices, homegrown solutions, open-source software, or extending legacy networking and security solutions. This approach with multi-cloud where applications need to be more dynamic presents several challenges, including comprehensive visibility, balancing performance and security, and ensuring compliance based on industry and local requirements.
However, managing traffic flows between applications and services in different clouds is increasingly complex. Setting up and maintaining connectivity between cloud providers requires a highly manual, point-to-point deployment, leading to operational complexity. Organizations are attempting, but failing, to build an architectural blueprint that includes infrastructure, security, compliance, and business units that simplify the process for DevOps to build, test, and deploy applications quickly and securely in line with SLAs.
The upshot: IT leaders must deliver agile and fast-moving orchestration between cloud, security, applications, and endpoints that bridges traditionally siloed teams within their organization.
Ensuring Security Without Sacrificing Performance
Modern applications are made up of hundreds or thousands of microservices that sit across multiple cloud providers and on-premises infrastructure. Different applications in the cloud have significant variations in performance, even when connecting over the same routes, within the same cloud service provider. In addition, many enterprises have a fragmented security stack and an inconsistent method for ensuring that security policies are applied uniformly. Another challenge for enterprises is rising and uncontrollable cloud costs. This makes things even more challenging for DevOps to roll out applications quickly in a consistent way.
Without comprehensive observability that gives enterprises deep insights into user to cloud, region to region, cross-cloud services within the application, and cloud-native services, blindspots put organizations at risk. It’s paramount to be able to measure and deliver consistent and secure application experiences quickly and cost-effectively across any environment. Unfortunately, enterprises are often forced to choose security while sacrificing performance. Ultimately this can negatively impact productivity, operational efficiency, and customer experiences.
DevOps Needs Support for Continuous Automated Delivery With Embedded Infrastructure
To simplify and operationalize the needs of infrastructure, networking, security, and observability, DevOps and infrastructure teams need an autonomous model of multi-cloud infrastructure and networking that supports continuous application delivery. What does such infrastructure look like in practice? DevOps teams have a number of critical needs that must be met, and we can think about the functions of autonomous multi-cloud infrastructure in those terms. For instance, DevOps teams need:
To ensure application experience for every user and location, infrastructure must be able to automatically scale up or down and optimize performance, across multiple clouds.
DevOps teams will need to templatize everything to ensure consistency across cloud providers.
3. CI/CD Support
Of course, there must be support for continuous delivery and continuous integration application development pipelines, so that infrastructure DevOps teams can build and deploy apps at speed.
4. Cost Controls
One of the largest concerns about the cloud is managing costs. Operations teams need tight, automated, global cost controls and visibility into inefficiencies across every cloud provider environment.
5. Accelerate MTTR
In terms of performance, any autonomous infrastructure must be able to point DevOps and operations teams to the source of issues for rapid troubleshooting, indicating root causes, in what cloud, in which environment, for which application, at what layer of the stack, and more.
6. Deep Insights for Better Decisions
On the whole, what DevOps and operations teams desperately lack is deep visibility into their infrastructure deployments, particularly across different cloud providers. Autonomous infrastructure must provide deep, actionable insights that can continuously improve application delivery and performance.
Enabling DevOps to Focus On Their Job: Rapid Buildout of Applications
IT leaders such as CIOs and cloud architects need to ensure the enterprise backbone can support modern applications in the multi-cloud world to simplify the process for DevOps. To do this, enterprises need to refocus their responsibilities from purely cloud connectivity to app experience by becoming the glue between cloud, security, applications, and endpoints. A single network fabric that uses cloud-native constructs that can dynamically scale as the footprint grows and works consistently across different on-premises data centers, cloud regions, edge locations, and co-locations is necessary so that DevOps can keep the focus on doing their job: rapidly rolling out applications as business requirements change.
A cloud-native architecture is critical to creating a flexible and dynamic network that understands the behavior of each app and optimizes performance at network, transport, and application layers. A single integrated stack with ML-led recommendations across cloud networking, performance, security, and observability will offer deep insights into the following, enabling enterprises to simplify and automate more:
- User to cloud
- Region to region
- Services within the application
- Cloud-native services
This gives enterprises all the control and a path forward for seamless infrastructure expansion, performance optimizations, rapid issue remediation, security improvements, compliance and enables better control of cloud costs.
Top Accounting Firm Faces Issues Utilizing Legacy Networking for Multi-Cloud
Let’s look at a real-life example: An international accounting firm with thousands of dispersed users accessing business-critical applications from around the world with footprints across Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Azure needed to ensure consistent and secure access to all applications. The networking team tasked with managing the cloud environment developed a blueprint that was cloud-based on a traditional networking hub and spoke architecture by replicating how they managed its Azure environment by extending it to AWS.
However, scaling this approach became increasingly complex and the networking team began exploring alternatives. Leveraging an integrated stack across four pillars — cloud networking, observability, performance, and security, built on cloud-native constructs that support modern application frameworks — the networking team simplified the management of its global cloud environment while delivering fast and secure access for all end-users, increasing productivity, collaboration, and revenue.
The enterprise cloud journey may start out as enterprises connect to one cloud service provider and one region, then eventually branch off into multiple CSPs and multiple regions. However, every cloud journey requires a platform to address networking, performance, security, and observability across each step of the journey. Autonomous multi-cloud networking simplifies the process for cloud architects and operations teams, but it also streamlines the process that offers a consistent way for DevOps teams to build, test and deploy applications quickly and securely in line with SLAs.