For decades network engineers and architects have been designing on-premises WANs to the point where they can now practically do it in their sleep. Determine the topology, select the network hardware, procure it, install it and configure it to connect end-users with applications. A repeatable and predictable process, even if it takes weeks to go from design to full implementation.
Then the cloud arrived and the established techniques that seasoned network engineers and architects knew and practiced needed to be revisited. Data and applications distributed across corporate data centers and multiple cloud providers have increased the complexity of cloud architectures and challenged network architects to provide efficient, secure cloud to cloud connectivity to ensure optimum application performance.
Intercloud Connectivity Requires Strategic Network Planning
Establishing and managing connections among applications and data distributed across multiple cloud environments can quickly become a complex undertaking. Cloud service providers don’t allow you to privately connect between them. Network architects typically address this limitation by routing traffic through a router outside of the clouds. This requires additional rack space and network hardware on-premises or at a colocation site, plus the required implementation time.
To connect to each of your cloud providers, you’ll also be contending with different configurations, protocols and management tools as your cloud footprint expands. If routing is done via the public internet, you’re subject to unreliable performance, bandwidth limitations and delays that can impact data flows and application performance.
Data and application locations, deployment of network services and cloud-to-cloud connectivity strategy become critical in regard to how each decision can impact application performance and customer experience. For example, how do you optimize performance when web servers residing in various cloud environments need to access data sitting on Azure? Is the internet the easiest means of managing intercloud connectivity, despite performance and security risks? Should data be duplicated across regions, even though it increases cloud spend? How quickly can you provide connectivity when an application hosted on yet a different cloud provider needs access to Azure data?
From both a network engineering and operations perspective you want to minimize the complexity of establishing and managing intercloud connectivity while optimizing network and application performance. The answer to this challenge is virtual network functions, and specifically, virtual routers that are ideally suited to eliminate the complexity of cloud-to-cloud connectivity. A virtual router provides functionality equivalent to a network hardware device.
Virtual Routers and Firewalls Simplify Cloud-to-Cloud Connectivity
Unlike physical routers and firewalls that require protracted procurement, installation and configuration cycles, a virtual device can establish connections between different cloud environments in minutes. Virtual routers and firewalls provide “as-a-service” flexibility to meet your project needs, without long term contracts. From a design standpoint, the virtual device can be spun up in a market or region where you’re utilizing one or more cloud service providers regardless of whether you have a physical presence or not. The virtual router will terminate BGP sessions for private, dedicated, secure connections to CSP’s and learn subnets for your resources in those environments.
Virtual devices can be quickly deployed in the following manner:
1. Select an appropriate virtual router like the Cisco CSR 1000V from a virtual network function marketplace such as Equinix Network Edge.
2. Specify the global location where you want to deploy the function and the cloud service providers you want to interconnect.
3. Provide an existing router or firewall license or choose the subscription option for licensing.
4. Provision the virtual function to establish connectivity.
Virtual network routers eliminate the need to acquire and maintain on-premises network hardware, enable businesses to easily establish connections between cloud providers to quickly respond to market expansion or the need to provide additional capacity or throughput to enhance application performance.
Plan for Intercloud Connectivity and Application Performance
Enterprises that currently work with, or foresee the inevitability of, multiple cloud providers can simplify the complexity of cloud-to-cloud connectivity and management by opting to use virtual devices in place of network hardware.
Not only does the virtual routing and security approach solve the complexity of intercloud connectivity, when deployed via providers like Equinix, but virtual devices bring the additional benefits of enhancing application performance by:
- Streamlining the complexity of configuring and managing different routing protocols and BGP policies, thereby ensuring router configuration to optimize traffic flow.
- Establishing secure, high-performance private connections between different cloud providers.
- Eliminating the delays associated with public internet carrier network connections that disrupt data flowing between the clouds resulting in applications and databases to be out of sync.
- Optimizing routing to minimize latency between endpoints and accelerating workflows distributed among cloud environments.
Any business faced with the complexity of managing connectivity between an increasing number of cloud environments that support distributed data and applications will benefit by adopting a virtual routing strategy. Rapid deployment, secure connections and optimized routing provided by virtual routers help ensure optimum data flows that enhance application performance.