There is nothing more important in today’s business environment than creating a flexible, agile organization that can respond to customer demands and competitive pressures. That’s why so many companies now look to hybrid cloud models to modernize their infrastructure.
It’s important, therefore to understand the role that the network plays in building, maintaining, and securing a hybrid cloud environment.
By nature, the cloud is software-defined, turning traditional hardware infrastructure into massive pools of compute and storage to be used and decommissioned as an on-demand resource. But until the advent of network virtualization, the full promise of the software-defined data center/infrastructure remains unfilled. Thus clouds, whether public, private, or hybrid, had yet to reach their potential.
It’s network virtualization that makes hybrid cloud models an operational reality and allows organizations to manage, control, and secure resources that may operate on-premises in the private cloud or in the public cloud. It’s network virtualization that is the bridge that enables companies to fully embrace the flexibility and scaling speed of hybrid cloud approaches.
Let’s look at some examples.
Stretching the Network Across Data Centers
Network virtualization gives an organization the ability to programmatically stretch the network from inside the data center to other data centers. This enables the flexible movement of application resources between private and public data centers. The enterprise, in effect, creates one large network that’s used to run business processes across both the private and public cloud.
Every organization needs a flexible approach to monitoring, accessing, managing, scaling, and securing resources. A software-driven approach to networking enabled via network virtualization helps each business manage security and automate the provisioning of applications, while allowing for application continuity across private and public platforms. In that way, businesses are not limited by the constraints of the physical network.
Network virtualization also is important as organizations consider how to modernize their approach to disaster recovery. Many companies take a dual-node, active-active approach with each node having constant access to a replicated database and the use of a single application.
When a resource fails in one location, network virtualization provides an automated set of tools that sends work safely and securely to another location. Autonomous healing moves a virtual machine to another part of an organization’s infrastructure.
Whether for production, disaster recovery, or development, a business can use the networking component of a software-defined infrastructure to manage all resources. Everything goes into one large pool of resources. It’s all one stretched data center. The hybrid approach creates a single resource pool that resides dynamically in either the private cloud or the public cloud.
Redefining Data Center Security with Micro-Segmentation
Micro-segmentation is another big benefit that network virtualization brings to the hybrid cloud. Micro-segmentation allows an organization to assign security policies to any application, and consistently apply those same security policies to the application and it’s components deployed across private and public data centers.
While hardware firewalls are still a requirement for handling the massive volumes of traffic at the data center edge, that traffic amounts to only a mere 20 percent of all data center traffic. The remaining 80 percent of data center traffic travels east-west within the data center. Micro-segmentation integrates security directly into an application that operates anywhere within the hybrid cloud, protecting east-west traffic between applications. The business can employ security policies over a virtual network or virtual machine, or at the level of the operating system or network interface. Security policies, in short, move with the workload. That’s helpful when an application and supporting resources move between data centers in a hybrid environment.
If a company has worked to comply with regulations through an accepted set of policies and procedures, then a software-defined approach to managing the network in hybrid environments allows an organization to apply the same governance structures across all data center environments — all the way from the on-premises data center to the public cloud.
Network virtualization makes the software-defined data center approach complete, connecting hosts by avoiding errors in physical network configuration. And because the IT group can control the network across data centers, there’s consistency when it comes to service-level agreements and quality-of-service.
In a time when the business need for agility drives so much investment in infrastructure modernization, every organization needs a flexible approach to assigning, managing, and securing resources. The hybrid cloud sits at the core of that compute and storage effort. And the transition of the network from hardware to software constructs has opened a whole new world to IT and business by unleashing the full potential of the cloud and making possible that which was previously unattainable.