Private clouds, public clouds, SaaS, on-premises and edge—as organizations leverage a more distributed, robust cloud-based strategy, they can also face more significant management and compliance challenges. This shift to the cloud may have, in many ways, left the traditional enterprise network stranded—no longer transporting the bulk of the enterprise network traffic, which now floats between the clouds and over the public internet.

The probable result of this widely dispersed, distributed world? Application performance is no longer guaranteed, security could be affected and the skills needed for one cloud are not always easily transferable or available in another.

At the same time, for many companies, their applications are their business. Regardless of the cloud provider or where users sit, these applications require dependable, secured connectivity. That’s why it’s time for a new approach, driven by the applications themselves.

The new network paradigm: Application-centric connectivity

Yesterday, we launched IBM Hybrid Cloud Mesh, a multicloud networking solution. When it is generally available later this year, this new SaaS product is designed to allow organizations to establish simple and secured application-centric connectivity. This is engineered for network managers to seamlessly manage and scale network applications across a wide variety of public and private clouds, edge and on-premises.

This application-first approach is the next important networking paradigm. It’s also an evolution from the current “fat pipes” method (which doesn’t differentiate between applications) to one that aligns the network to the needs of the business, its users, and its developers, their CI/CD pipeline and DevOps cycles. When it’s time to configure new cloud networks and connect applications, our approach is designed to turn weeks into hours and move from manual to automated processes, with robust visibility into performance and minimized risk of IAM misconfigurations.

What this means for your networks

Given the complexity of today’s networking environments, we purposely designed Hybrid Cloud Mesh around four basic attributes:

  1. Simple: You’ll find a streamlined deployment process that enables automated workflows and simple network configuration that can be managed via CLI or an intuitive UI.
  2. Secured: Critical for today’s business, you’ll find zero-trust architecture and end-to-end encryption, along with segmentation and micro-segmentation.
  3. Scalable: Scalable to large enterprise environments, you also have the ability to scale resources based on demand.
  4. Seamless: Designed to reduce the barriers between clouds and teams, you can manage services across clouds, with on-demand, intent-driven application-centric connectivity.

Components of Hybrid Cloud Mesh

Two main architecture components are key to how the product is designed to work.

  • Gateways, which act as virtual routers and connectors. These are centrally managed through Mesh Manager and deployed both in the cloud and on customer premises.
  • The Mesh Manager provides the centralized management and control plane for Hybrid Cloud Mesh through a SaaS portal.

Both Gateways and the Mesh Manager are designed to communicate through a set of open, secured APIs and interfaces.

Hybrid Cloud Mesh is engineered to complement existing SD-WANs, service mesh and multicloud networking solutions. You’ll also find crucial benefits that can include the following:

  • Auto-discovery of cloud infrastructure and applications using the Gateways described above, deployed next to applications both in the cloud and on customer premises.
  • A single centralized management and control plane for your multicloud deployments and sites through Mesh Manager.
  • Addressing silos between CloudOps and DevOps through automated workflows and a shared overlay, enabling rapid application deployment and optimization.
  • A “network follows the application” paradigm that establishes application-level connectivity to streamline application migration to the cloud and moves the network wherever the application is placed.
  • Zero-trust architecture that seamlessly enables end-to-end encryption across the network from application component to application component.
  • Application network optimization with granular visibility and control of application-level connectivity. This is done by streamlining telemetry, root cause analysis and reconfiguration. It provides an intuitive overlay to help address performance issues and generate traffic engineering recommendations.

Learn more

Let us help you take back control of your networks. Ahead of the product’s generally available release date in the second half of 2023, IBM will offer clients the ability to request access to the IBM Hybrid Cloud Mesh offering via an early access program. You can also schedule a deep dive with our IBM team.

Learn more about IBM Hybrid Cloud Mesh

IBM’s plans, directions and intentions may change or be withdrawn at any time at IBM’s discretion, without notice. Information about potential future products and improvements is provided to give a general idea of IBM’s goals and objectives and should not be used in making a purchase decision. IBM is not obligated to provide any materials, code or functionality based on this information. This statement replaces all prior statements on this topic.

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