Networking for Nerds

8 Best Practices for Multicloud Networking

These steps will help you take a deliberate approach to setting up and maintaining cloud-to-cloud networking

Rodney Elder
8 Best Practices for Multicloud Networking

As organizations face pressure to reduce technical debt, retire legacy workloads, get out of existing data centers and modernize their infrastructure via digital transformation, they have a lot of decisions to make about how to strategically take advantage of cloud solutions. Many have found themselves in a multicloud architecture by circumstance. They adopted cloud solutions to meet specific needs, but without an overarching plan. Now, they need to tackle multicloud networking strategically to enable the transfer of data between clouds effectively, affordably and securely.

Now that we’ve covered what multicloud networking is—networking from any cloud to any cloud—and why it’s so important to do it deliberately, let’s talk about some best practices for multicloud networking. Then, in an upcoming post, we’ll dive deeper into the technical how-to of multicloud networking.

8 best practices for multicloud networking

We’ve identified eight best practices to guide organizations as they seek a more strategic approach to multicloud networking.

1. Take ownership of your multicloud networking.

Companies use multiple clouds because each one offers different advantages, but networking between clouds gets complicated if you’re limited to using cloud-native networking capabilities. Owning and managing your multicloud network prevents you from being locked into a single cloud provider or confined by its built-in capabilities. It also gives you greater control over costs, performance and security. Therefore, we recommend that organizations take control of their multicloud network rather than offloading that responsibility to a third party (or many third parties).

2. Balance the use of public and private networking.

For high performance and low latency, you need to optimize the use of available networking options, including the public internet and various private networking options. Think about what network types are appropriate for your cloud needs and how they’ll affect performance, costs, security and so forth. You need to consider how to get the best price per bit to achieve optimal performance parity between public and private networks.

3. Address reliability and performance matched to your business requirements.

In addition to finding the right balance of public and private connectivity, you need to use high-quality networking options to meet performance and user experience requirements. Predictable performance is necessary for core enterprise functions like transactional processing and systems of record, which may reside in different clouds. Not to mention, delivering great user experiences is essential for customer retention and worker productivity. Thus, user access networks need to have the lowest latency to front-end applications, many of which are now cloud-native or have moved to the cloud through containerization. Such applications are well-suited to run on bare metal at the metro edge, supported by cloud-hosted management platforms.

4. Prioritize traffic and route it efficiently.

Multicloud networking requires you to evaluate traffic patterns and choose the right network path for specific cloud applications and workloads based on their requirements. A multicloud network benefits from having cloud-adjacent routing and balancing functions. This is especially true when a single network function is necessary to support the traffic between clouds, like in the case of border gateway protocol (BGP).

5. Educate stakeholders about multicloud networking.

Multicloud networking has implications not just for the networking team, but for infrastructure and architecture teams, security, application developers and business development. It’s important for all the stakeholders to understand that multicloud networking introduces a whole new world of capabilities, features and functions. Networking nowadays can be as agile as application development because it can be driven by software and automation. You should also make sure that line-of-business leaders, management and executives have buy-in. Digitally transforming your business requires understanding how rapidly it can seize on new opportunities or react to changing obligations.

6. Perform regular multicloud network testing and monitoring.

As with any aspect of your IT infrastructure, you should regularly assess and monitor your multicloud network to ensure it functions properly and meets your organization’s requirements. Many of the technologies used today for multicloud networking are overlay solutions, which rely on underlay networks. These underlay networks can and do change dynamically, and testing is critical to ensure that applications—front end or core—function optimally. You must closely monitor and test the network to ensure consistent performance.

7. Integrate security measures. 

Better security is one of the key reasons multicloud networking is essential. Owning your multicloud network gives you greater control of your data in transit. But you need to implement security measures like virtual firewalls to protect applications and data, and load balancers to intelligently manage traffic and achieve more resilience in your multicloud architecture. Additionally, implementing MACsec ensures traffic is encrypted between the clouds and transaction processing. You want your security to be as flexible as your networking to keep up with the pace of change, new services and digital transformation.

8. Design your multicloud network for the future.

Agility and flexibility have become essential for companies today, so designing for scalability makes good sense. You should plan your multicloud network with the future in mind, so you’ll be better equipped to adapt quickly if new business opportunities or needs present themselves.

Multicloud networking with Equinix

Equinix can help you unlock the potential of your multicloud strategy, delivering better network and application performance while avoiding vendor lock-in. Here are some steps you can take to deploy cloud-adjacent networking resources with Equinix:

  • To achieve a balanced “price per bit” on your multicloud network, you can migrate existing network functions, such as your connection to internet and network service providers, as well as physical firewalls, into an Equinix network hub. Take advantage of a deep ecosystem of network providers.
  • Next, use software-defined interconnection services to connect virtually to all the public clouds and SaaS providers you work with. Our ecosystem includes 5,000+ cloud, IT and network service providers, supporting highly predictable and secure private networking capabilities.
  • Keeping accurate time function between clouds is highly challenging, but you can deploy Equinix Precision Time™ at the metro edge, adjacent to applications and core functions in the cloud for secure, reliable, precise time synchronization across your infrastructure.
  • You can also use Network Edge to migrate your physical firewalls, routers, SD-WAN devices, load balancers and so forth into virtual network functions (VNFs) for greater agility and OPEX-based pricing. Utilizing VNFs in expansion or temporary markets dramatically improves the speed to service required in a highly digitized enterprise. And VNFs help you move at the speed of software, alleviating physical supply chain obstacles or delays.
  • For workloads that aren’t yet cloud-ready and need a middle ground, you can bring them closer to the cloud or end users using Equinix Metal®. Using bare metal in unison with already established cloud-native environments and management platforms ensures your organization can capitalize on technology investments across the organization. And Equinix Metal can be easily integrated with your multicloud network when deployed on the same cloud-adjacent platform.
  • There are cases where moving existing platforms directly to the cloud won’t make sense. Examples include older platforms that aren’t ready to migrate to cloud but still need to be maintained, and situations where regulations or other obligations require that data and transactions remain within the geography. In such cases, you can move technical debt into a secure colocation space or secure cabinet in Equinix IBX® data centers. On Platform Equinix®, you can easily make your physical deployments part of your multicloud network.

To learn more about the possibilities of cloud-adjacent infrastructure with Equinix, download the Leaders guide to digital infrastructure.

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