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Orchestrating Australia’s appetite for the cloud - Silver Peak

29 Nov 2019
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Article by Silver Peak A/NZ regional director Graham Schultz

As Australia’s appetite for public cloud services continues to intensify, so too does the complexity of the landscape as businesses experience significant change moving away from corporate data centres.

Much focus has been on the benefits of migrating to the cloud – cost savings, ease of management, increased performance, scalability, among others.

But less focus has been placed on how to actually migrate to the cloud, with network infrastructure seeming to be the laggard in the transition.

The problem is that traditional router-centric wide area network (WAN) approaches weren’t designed for the cloud; rather when all applications were hosted in data centres.

This limits enterprises from realising the true transformational promise of the cloud.

Network traffic patterns have shifted, the fundamental nature of applications has changed and security needs are different when everything is open and connected in the cloud.

This will likely get worse, driven by the constantly changing needs of a business, the continuous evolution of every cloud application and the uniqueness of every cloud and application environment.

On top of this, networks have grown more complex, with distributed enterprises operating over multiple geographies and regions.

At these branch sites, nuances in the way they operate, applications they favour and local policies they must adhere to, can add to the complicated network architecture IT already has to deal with.

To successfully operate in the cloud, enterprises must execute a WAN transformation strategy capable of delivering a multiplier effect on cloud investments.

Modern architecture needed to support the cloud

In a router-centric model, all traffic is routed from branch offices to the data centre using private MPLS circuits.

With the emergence of the cloud, applications are no longer centralised.

Traditional routers require enterprises to inefficiently backhaul cloud-destined application traffic from branch offices back to the data centre, instead of directly to cloud applications.

This impairs application performance and the end-user quality of experience.

Enterprises struggle trying to stretch the old router-centric WAN; indeed, it’s too cumbersome and complicated.

Instead, many Australian businesses are adopting SD-WAN as a better way forward to successfully operate in the cloud, aided by their network, rather than hindered by it.

An SD-WAN is a virtual network overlay that uses any underlying transport – MPLS, 4G LTE or broadband internet – to connect users directly and securely to applications wherever they reside.

An advanced SD-WAN solution will help organisations reach their goal of a fully automated business-driven network required in today’s cloud era.

Shift to business-first networking

A business-driven networking model is a top-down approach that conforms to the business, in contrast to the legacy router-centric approach where applications – and the business – are forced to conform to the constraints imposed by the network.

In this approach, the WAN is turned to a business accelerant that’s fully automated and continuous.

This gives every application the resources it truly needs while delivering ten times the bandwidth for the same budget – ultimately achieving the highest quality of experience to users and IT alike.

Playing an important role in this process is SD-WAN orchestration, centrally coordinating all the quality of service (QoS) and security policies for groups of applications based on business intent.

This gives IT the power to tell the network what it wants to do and then use automation and machine learning to just make it work.

SD-WAN orchestration provides centralised management and complete observability of the entire network through a single pane of glass.

The IT organisation gains the highest levels of visibility across network health, as well as application, network and WAN transport service performance.

This visibility into the WAN ecosystem enables faster troubleshooting when enterprises need it most.

Meeting the needs of global organisations

For businesses that operate across multiple locations globally, centralised orchestration enables an SD-WAN to be fine-tuned to meet the specific needs of a region.

It can be programmed to automatically configure hundreds or thousands of locations across the network.

From that point onwards, the network automatically and continuously connects users directly and securely to applications delivering optimum performance.

Through real-time monitoring of applications and WAN services, a business-driven network can automatically learn of any changes in network conditions that might impact application performance, like packet loss, latency or jitter.

It then automatically adapts to give every application the network and security resources it needs to deliver the highest quality of experience to users.

Where there’s a requirement to support different regional QoS or security policies, each individual policy can be centrally configured and managed in alignment with business and regulatory requirements, while also enabling each location to be managed independently.

Businesses can easily segment applications, WAN services or users, which keeps branches safe from security threats and assists IT in meeting enterprise compliance mandates.

To operate successfully in the cloud, businesses need full control over their applications and they need their network architecture to support the business rather than define it.

With a host of complexities on the modern network, using the best orchestrator technology in partnership with SD-WAN can ensure businesses realise a multiplier effect on existing and ongoing cloud investments.