How to Prepare Your Network for Cloud Transformation
By Kirk Waddell, EVP of Technology, One Source
By 2024, over 70% of all IT spending will go towards digital transformation and innovation, driving over 90% of new applications to be cloud-enabled. Those applications are only as good as the networks that they run on. As the cloud speeds up your business, you can’t allow legacy network architecture to hold it back.
Below are 4 critical strategies for building a robust, high-performance, scalable, and secure network with optimal connectivity to enable a successful cloud transformation.
Eliminate Bandwidth Constraints
Evaluating bandwidth constraints is a critical step in planning and designing digital transformation architectures but one that can often be overlooked. Cloud transformation without proper network evaluation can cause a bandwidth bottleneck. If proper network bandwidth is not available for an application to perform, it will result in latency, poor user experience, and other issues. Bandwidth constraints and latency will prevent you from seeing any advantages in a cloud transformation initiative.
When thinking about traffic or bandwidth for a transformational exercise, there’s more than one metric you’ll need to consider. You need to examine traffic that is moving from an employee to a server, whether that is an employee in the office connecting to a server in the cloud, or a remote employee VPN connection to a server that lives in the office.
You’ll also need to examine traffic that is moving from one server to another. This is especially important when you’re talking about IT transformation and cloud adoption and is often the piece that is most commonly missed. It’s easy to forget about how servers are connected amongst themselves and account for what the traffic needs are between the various components of your infrastructure.
Accelerate Location Setups
No business is staying static. Locations are constantly being added or taken away, making it vital to accelerate a location set up to start generating revenue. The key to doing this is? Standardization. Customization is the “death” of IT projects. The more you try to accommodate a niche edge use case the more you try to customize every piece for every person. This makes implementation harder to execute and provide support on. It also elongates the process of getting a location up and running. What ends up happening is a giant ball of a string of architecture is created and only one person or a handful of people understand it.
The more you can standardize deployments, the faster you can get them out there, and the easier it is to support and have them remain long-term. This creates efficiency and success downstream for your business and allows new locations to be set up quickly to start generating revenue.
Reliability & Performance Strategies
Every cloud provider has its own networking model and they all do it differently. Each of these different cloud environments – whether it’s public, private, or hybrid – is going to have a specific model for how it expects the network to look. They all have their own requirements, expectations, and needs on what will connect and how they want the network to operate. This is why compatibility is important. VPN specifications are usually not compatible with each other. You can take a platform-based system and put an appliance in every cloud environment you have and therefore make it a part of your SD-WAN. Doing this ensures a powerful network architecture that best supports a cloud transformation exercise. By setting up your network this way, you avoid having to meet providers on the exact topography they expect.
Adapting for Future Cloud Needs
There has been a change in perspective on what the cloud is typically good for. Originally, it was all about your public presence on the internet and what you put out there for others to consume. But what we see now is more companies who have bought into the idea of adopting cloud for the workloads that would traditionally run in their office on a “pizza box” server, tower server, or in a data center. There has been a shift in running traditional computing workloads on an application that runs in the public cloud, rather than forklifting everything into a SaaS platform or cloud-native apps. This shift in what the cloud is being used for allows companies to achieve digital transformation without having to rewrite their application stack and without having to go to cloud-native or 3rd generation web apps.
You can run traditional infrastructure apps in the cloud if you take the time to determine three major things. You need to examine how it fits into the overall network architecture, how your SD-WAN is built out, and what the bandwidth and latency requirements are. If you plan these out on the front end, you can run traditional apps on the cloud and achieve a better user experience, and lower costs and maintenance requirements. Organizations are starting to use the cloud in a powerful way to run software and systems they would’ve normally had in the office.
The concept of a multi-cloud strategy has become applicable to the majority of organizations as SaaS has continued to evolve. Having multiple cloud providers can have several benefits. For example, the cost structure of how you run different workloads is different in every type of cloud. Types of workloads best suited towards Azure and the pricing model they use are not the same as AWS and their pricing model. The reality for many businesses is that there is still a certain amount that translates best to on-premise or private cloud in a data center. You have to ask yourself “where do I get my best ROI and the best value for my workload?”. Each of these cloud providers has carved out their own segment in the industry and the workloads they support best making a multi-cloud strategy essential in order to best support all the workloads within your organization.
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