The cloud has continued to grow in popularity, but there is a stark shift is happening in the market. Instead of choosing a single cloud provider, organizations are making multi-cloud the norm. A recent ZK Research survey found that 84% of enterprises want multi-cloud, because it lets them take a best-of-breed approach to cloud. Businesses are shifting to multi-cloud, because it offers a number of benefits including economic flexibility, regional performance and competitiveness between solution providers.
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Multi-cloud changes everything with the network, and today’s cloud-first enterprises cannot rely on legacy networks. Networks need to be highly redundant, scale globally and ensure the highest levels of security. Many network managers have turned to an SD-WAN to help ease the pain of migrating to multi-cloud as SD-WANs offer a higher level of agility than legacy networks. However, not all SD-WANs are created equal, and some do a better job of enabling multi-cloud than others.
Oracle SD-WAN is designed for multi-cloud
Oracle SD-WAN is a great example of an SD-WAN that was designed with multi-cloud in mind, because it solves some of the biggest pain points. For example, one of the drivers of SD-WAN is cost control and savings. SD-WANs obviously help with cloud traffic, because it can optimize traffic across the different links. However, there’s a bigger role that SD-WAN can play, because it can be used as a permanent gateway for cloud apps to drive down configuration times and support costs.
Typically, SD-WANs are deployed at the edge of the enterprise network, but if the deployments are front-ending cloud resources, the application would get a turbo boost in performance. Oracle is currently working with Microsoft to be a gateway into Teams so joint customers would get a Premium Teams experience. Customers would simply need to add an SD-WAN to their network edge and then subscribe.
SaaS apps need quality of experience for optimal user experience
Obviously, every company has different needs that vary depending on its size and location, or in most cases, multiple locations. But it all boils down to making sure that business-critical applications are always available and user quality of experience (QoE) stays high. That’s where a SD-WAN comes in. It makes a network reliable by prioritizing both non-real-time applications, such as customer relationship management (CRM) and real-time apps, including voice over IP (VoIP) and video.
Take a law firm that uses a cloud-based video service for client depositions as an example. A poor-quality network will result in poor picture quality and audio fading during videoconferences and phone calls. This can create unhappy customers and a loss of billable time. With this use case, the most apparent benefit of a SD-WAN deployment for the firm would be improved network reliability and application QoE resulting in better video calls. Longer term, the firm would have more flexibility when moving new offices into production or adding infrastructure. It can also easily switch carriers without worrying about network outages.
Multi-cloud raises the security stakes
Multi-cloud adoption increases the attack surface for the enterprise as it creates more entry points into the business. SD-WAN enables companies to access multiple cloud services but protects those entry points through encryption, segmentation and localized security. SD-WANs let companies enjoy the benefits of multi-cloud while minimizing the security risks.
Not all SD-WANs are created equal. All SD-WANs perform some level of branch-to-data center optimization, but what’s necessary today is optimizing connections between business locations and the multiple cloud locations. To accomplish this, Oracle has integrated a number of features. For example, it does continuous unidirectional measurement of all WAN paths between any pair of locations. Based on this advanced, essentially machine-learning measurement system, it makes per-packet forwarding decisions and can react sub-second to network problems–link/router failures but also bouts of congestion-based packet loss and jitter–to ensure that mission-critical and real-time communications traffic, particularly latency-sensitive VoIP and video, are always delivered reliably and predictably to their destination.
Oracle SD-WAN makes the network self-driving
Oracle SD-WAN is also a self-driving and self-healing SD-WAN, as it automatically resolves network congestion-caused problems to prevent dropped calls and broken applications sessions. This greatly improves user experience while removing the burden from IT to perform hours of troubleshooting and constant remediation.
ZK Research always recommends customers deploy an SD-WAN in conjunction with moving communications to the cloud. Without it, the entire ROI of the project is at risk. Oracle SD-WAN has many features that improve multi-cloud environments.
Another factor to be considered is “shadow IT” where users can procure their own SaaS applications without the knowledge of It. This can create some obvious risks and compliance problems as data is being stored in unsanctioned locations. Oracle provides deep visibility and analytics, enabling IT to get a better handle on what cloud services are being used, who is using them and how they are performing.
The problem with shadow IT is that the IT organization loses control of its traffic as it heads to the cloud. The Oracle SD-WAN provides complete visibility of the customers traffic into the cloud up to the SD-WAN gateway, giving some control back to the IT organization. Also, IT is able to quickly create policies applicable throughout the enterprise to reliably deliver traffic to its destination, instead of manually configuring applications to a specific network guessing the potential thresholds needed to steer sessions.
Prioritize zero touch provisioning
It’s important to note that too many processes and devices can be a nightmare for companies. A multicloud migration requires a high level of automation. Networks are now too large and complex, with dynamic cloud services moving across hosts. Zero-touch provisioning (ZTP) makes this simpler, but this should be considered table stakes today.
Looking ahead, it’s important to understand how cloud applications are deployed using DevOps and CI/CD methodologies. Some of the microservices that comprise those applications could be spread across multiple clouds via API integrations. SD-WAN Edge/GWs need to be integrated with the provisioning and orchestration of those services so that network reliability/security is built into the fabric of those applications.
Similar principles hold true for VPC to VPC communications across public and private clouds. Automated policies can also help here. The cloud environment is increasing in complexity, and policies can be used to simplify things by enabling better orchestration between clouds and users. Policies can define the priority of the application, the messages(session), and the network
Another benefit of Oracle SD-WAN is the flexibility it offers enterprises, whether they’re moving to a hybrid or a multicloud environment. The carrier-agnostic SD-WAN can be deployed per location as a physical appliance, virtually, or directly in the cloud. For companies that worry about overhauling their WAN infrastructure, Oracle SD-WAN Edge can be deployed in overlay mode with an existing WAN, making the transition to the cloud easier and cheaper without a dreaded “forklift upgrade.”
These capabilities—or the lack of them—can make a big difference between a subpar network and one that delivers superior performance. ZK Research shows that multi-cloud is rapidly becoming the norm. To fully maximize the value of a multi-cloud environment, enterprises need to move fast and choose the right SD-WAN solution.
Zeus Kerravala is an eWEEK regular contributor and the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. He spent 10 years at Yankee Group and prior to that held a number of corporate IT positions.