3 tips for networking in the cloud-hosted economy

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networking cloud-hosted economyIn a distributed and connected cloud-hosted application economy, networking plays a key role.

Companies looking to host their workloads with cloud service providers (CSPs) must make informed decisions on how to connect to cloud infrastructures. When choosing CSPs, companies sometimes overlook the importance evaluating networking options. It’s not just about having a network connection, it also requires considering speed, flexibility, latency, the number of hops, redundancy, reliability, telecommunications vendor option and additional provisions.

In addition, companies should evaluate where their users are located, how they would connect to the business application and how users would be authenticated using centrally managed direct structures. Some companies prefer that all users and employees first connect to their corporate network, then ride their intranet to connect to cloud hosted applications.

Here are three networking items to consider:

1. Connecting your corporate network to a cloud vendor.

The two prevalent networking options for connecting to cloud are virtual private networks (VPN) and dedicated lines with defined bandwith.

A VPN is an encrypted tunnel over the internet for data exchange. It’s simple to set up and is used 85 to 90 percent of the time by customers. However, this connection is limited by the provider’s internet bandwidth and is shared traffic over the internet.

For example, a retailer may require each of its geo-dispersed store to constantly connect to an application for access to its hosted enterprise application hosted at the CSP. A VPN may be best suited here.

A dedicated line with defined bandwidth can be provided by large telecommunications vendors that set up their routers in CSP data centers or in their point of presence (POP). It enables a separate, encrypted channel through which customer traffic can reach the CSP.

Internally, telecommunications locations are connected through high-speed fiber lines, which are shared among clients. Dedicated lines can provide much better redundancy and reduced latency than a public network. However, ordering and setting these lines takes a considerable amount of time. Customers should make use of their existing telecommunications providers and connect to their CSPs’ primary and disaster recovery sites.

Large applications such as SAP and Oracle, with many geographically diverse users, require a dedicated line to host their core business application in many cases. Some hosting vendors provide customers the option to connect to one of the POP and internally ride their high-speed fiber to connect all their data centers.

2. Using firewalls and load balancers.

Firewalls are like the automated front gate of a house; you only give entry to someone you know. It separates internal and external traffic. CSPs provide multiple firewalls to segregate data flow based on type of traffic.

Load Balancers redirect global and local traffic to the right host in the network. These are inherent part of the cloud and are provided as load balance as a service (LbaaS).

3. Extending your company IPs and domain names to the CSP.

This is like extending your company’s corporate network to another data center.  Even the active directory can be replicated to a CSP for quicker and central user authentication.

Business application transformation to the cloud becomes easier when the infrastructure virtual machine is set up in the company’s own domain and own IP, and authentication is done at the CSP site itself.

Networking is complicated. I have heard IT management calling it “rocket science.” But cloud commoditization and automation tools during enablement have reduced complexity and setup time significantly for many networking options.

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