With remote working now the new normal many organisations are rapidly transitioning their workloads and business applications to public cloud and SaaS environments often working with multiple cloud providers, Internet Service Providers and Colo operators.
There are a few careful considerations that organisations need to navigate when entering this transformation phase, some of which are often made easier, by aligning yourself with a neutral partner who is informed of the many different options available and is not hindered by any of the perceived legacy limitations in the organisation.
Your network is the foundation of a successful transformation journey:
Whilst the cloud provides a forward-thinking approach to help businesses improve scalability and flexibility, it will be severely limited by an inadequate network. It is critical that your cloud migration’s success be anchored to the network. The network is directly tied to application performance and is what end users rely on to access cloud resources. As businesses grow, they are expected to operate and manage applications seamlessly and to scale on demand. Only a robust network can be expected to meet this challenge and keep companies competitive in the new digital age.
Challenges created by Legacy Networks:
Legacy networks like MPLS are expensive, localised and do not scale effectively for cloud consumption. These older networks are generally centred around a service provider datacentre and built with complex configurations which generally offers little cloud flexibility. The full potential of a cloud migration can only be realized with an updated network architecture using next generation technologies like SD-WAN to provide access to cloud onramp. More detail around these technologies will be discussed in our next article on WAN transformation.
- Datacentre considerations
Companies are increasingly considering colocation services as an ideal solution for their IT infrastructure due to the escalating costs of building a private data centre as well as the versatility offered by commercial data centres. Modern data centres are gateways to the connectivity and digital services platform, offering businesses access to every digital service imaginable.
Colocation is no longer just about renting floor space. It offers organisations the ability to leverage data centres’ enhanced power and cooling capabilities to reduce ongoing infrastructure costs.
As the demand for digital services grows, the need to build digital architectures that support real-time interactions spanning multiple key business partners is essential. By co-locating within interconnection ecosystems found in vendor-neutral data centres, enterprises today can provision dedicated, high-speed cross-connects between partners, service providers and networks to create a faster and more efficient end-user experience for their customers.
Companies should consider the peering ecosystems available in their chosen datacentre provider. If they are not readily available consideration should be given to how you will access these eco-systems from a third-party datacentre facility. Some companies often choose to host their workloads in a more cost-effective facility and use platforms like the Intelys Secure Network Access Point or SNAP to access these interconnected eco-systems like the Africa Cloud Exchange which is hosted at Teraco. Using these platforms often works out a lot more cost effective than hosting your entire environment in a more expensive carrier-neutral facility.
- Core Network Considerations
Once you have made the decision on whether to host your datacentre infrastructure in a Colo or remain in your private datacentre facility, there are a few important considerations that need to be given to your core network architecture design. First and foremost is understanding how you will extend your network to access the cloud in a Hybrid Cloud Network architecture.
You need to consider the following:
- Core Switching Datacentre Architecture: You can either pursue a traditional approach or consider leveraging the benefits on an SDN approach assuming you can justify the spend. This would typically be driven by your DR strategy; whether you want an Active-Active or an Active-Passive environment and the level of automation required/desired.
- Branch to Cloud Architecture: Will your branches access cloud directly or hairpin through a central firewall in the datacentre? Branch to cloud directly using next generation networking technology like SD-WAN will improve application performance as there are fewer hops which would mean the lowest possible latency for the user to application.
- Application Segmentation: Understand how you will segment your applications and decide whether they will sit centrally behind a firewall or in a distributed architecture and ensure they have the correct level of security attached. This directly affects the core network architecture.
- Application Access: Given the rise in mobile workers, most of the applications are likely to be accessed remotely. We would encourage that consideration be given to a SASE architecture as this is a more scalable architecture than your traditional datacentre model.
- Datacentre footprint: Your core equipment refresh cycle will determine whether you sweat your current infrastructure assets or refresh to smaller more efficient equipment. If you are moving to a Colo, it is often better to plan your equipment refresh at the same time as your move to ensure that you use less rack space and power.
- Single Cloud or Multi-Cloud Strategy
A multi-cloud strategy is a process of using multiple cloud services in a multi-faceted architecture to deliver specific business applications. Assigning a business application to each cloud service generates multiple benefits to the enterprise.
A strong pull for enterprises to adopt a multi-cloud strategy is to sidestep vendor lock-in. Vendor lock-in is when an enterprise is unable to transfer its data to a different vendor. Outside of vendor lock-in, a multi-cloud approach makes it difficult for a Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attack to affect all of its data as it can’t penetrate all the clouds in use. It is also attractive to enterprises for its flexibility, and it is easily customizable.
Even smaller corporate networks with just a handful of locations and cloud instances (VPCs/VNets) have many considerations and use-cases when building a hybrid or multi-Cloud network.
These organizations need to:
- extend their private network infrastructure to one or multiple public clouds,
- allow and manage distributed Internet exit points and the Cloud Edge,
- define and manage consistent network and security policies,
- and achieve deep visibility across both on-premises and public cloud network environments.
- Understand how they will manage and control the provisioning of resources and optimise the environment.
At the same time, it is critical for organizations to have full Day-2 controls with comprehensive troubleshooting and monitoring capabilities to ensure operational excellence. If you choose to go multi-Cloud, there are several third-party platforms that make this easier to navigate as they offer standardised security and networking posture between clouds. This means that organisations do not require networking skills across both cloud environments.
We appreciate that this is not a one size fits all approach. In our view organisations need a repeatable architecture with common services, common operational capabilities, and common security constructs across multiple cloud environments.
Intelys have a suite of services to help deliver these WAN transformation initiatives of all types of complexity and scale. We offer a high-touch consultative approach where we work alongside our clients to build out a strategy blueprint for their network of the future.
In doing so we:
- Increase customer value, optimise operational efficiency, and deliver business outcomes.
- Translate your IT strategy into business value.
- Ensure that you make the right buying decision.
Wherever you are in your transformation journey, our consulting services cover multiple dimensions from strategic discovery through to delivery of technologies and services with our Managed Service capability.
We tailor specific solutions for you with our technical capability in Networking, Data Centres, Cloud and Security to deliver the branch of the future that todays’ elastic workforce demands.
Book a free network assessment with to start your transformation journey now!