The majority of large enterprises are using cloud platforms now but few have shifted this use from their DevOps team over to central IT — but will in the next 1-2 years. When you do, you should quickly get your networking team involved as most of the Dev-to-Cloud connections that have been put in place by your developers may not meet your corporate security or WAN performance standards. This is a key finding in the latest report from myself and Andre Kindness that is now available to clients at Forrester.com.
As you no doubt know by now, from reading our research, cloud use is not an isolated activity. Most applications built in the cloud are native hybrid, meaning they connect to something outside the cloud. Most commonly these applications reach back into your corporate data center to talk to systems of record, such as databases, CRM or ERP systems or other key corporate resources. The connections established most often by these developers are public links secured with SSL or VPN constructs. These are easy to establish by the developers but are often set up without the QoS or security controls your networking teams have established for other corporate WAN links. So if you want consistency in your WAN policies, it’s time to get the networking experts involved.
The leading public clouds provide a growing variety of WAN options today including private links, dark fiber connections and MPLS links via the leading network and colocation providers. The key is determining which connections make the most sense in what scenarios. If you want to ensure QoS for your new applications, want the ability to prioritize certain traffic over others, need to ensure tight encryption controls and packet auditing, you will want to take advantage of these new options. But not universally. You’ll want to take a measured and multi-option approach that pairs the right WAN investments with the appropriate applications, as a universal dark fiber decision will raise your cloud costs significantly.
Your networking teams also need to adapt to the cloud – not the other way around. Their skills and knowledge are applicable to the public cloud networking constructs and options provided but you won’t be able to bring your own networking solutions (at least not your hardware). And forcing the development teams to wait for the networking team to have a plan won’t work either. Forrester recommends bringing in a small team or individual admin from the networking team who is open to new options and approaches and is willing to learn from and accommodate the agility your cloud developers are driving. Have them engage with your cloud developers, get to know the options provided by the clouds they are using and build out a plan that will unburden the developers from network configuration, while adapting their networking choices to set ups that work best for the company.
In “Beware the Pitfalls Within Networking for Hybrid Cloud" we lay out four scenarios that represent common approaches to cloud and the best practices being used by leading enterprises. You may not find all the options or configuration specifics that you are used to or feel you need. But an attitude and openness to adaptation is key to getting hybrid cloud configurations right. And if you still can’t achieve your corporate needs let your cloud providers know where they fall short. They want your business and are eager for this feedback. But remember, “I want to put my networking equipment in your data center,” is likely a nonstarter.