Future of IT Infrastructure
IT (Information Technology) infrastructure includes cloud, data centers, routers, firewalls, load balancers, and so on. Enterprises can have resources deployed on-prem (traditional method), in the cloud, or a mix of both (hybrid), each requiring various levels of complexity in deployment, operation, and cost.
This article discusses the drivers behind the changes in IT infrastructure, what those changes are, and the challenges associated with these changes.
Drivers of Change
Enterprises realized that physical investments to expand their IT infrastructure are both costly and time-consuming. In some instances, it would take years to make and implement a decision. Cloud technology has changed all of that. Cloud allowed enterprises to grow their infrastructure at scale faster. As for the costs associated with the cloud, enterprises either saved money or kept their costs at the same level as before (if they had not figured out how to optimize their internal processes and people). But it was clear that at least time-to-market (hence, better resilience and customer experience) had increased.
Secondly, many enterprises are trying to get out of the datacenter business; it is very costly to run datacenters and it appears running workloads on the clouds is cheaper, faster, and scalable.
Changes in IT Infrastructure Today
Hybrid cloud is the new preferred infrastructure model. What this means is that enterprise will have resources both on-prem and in the cloud.
The advantage of having some on-prem resources is the rising trend of edge computing. Edge computing is having data processing performed closer to where the data is produced, insights are consumed, and actions are taken. This is faster in some cases, such as if applications are closer to the on-prem data center. In other cases, local operation may be required by regulations or preferred for privacy, security, or resilience reasons.
The advantages of having resources deployed to the cloud are scalability and lower latencies if the applications are far away from on-prem data centers and closer to the cloud availability zones.
Within hybrid cloud model, the multi-cloud cloud is an on-going trend that enterprises are increasingly recognizing and trying to adapt to by using no tools, in-house developed tools, or enterprise off-the-shelf applications. Multi-cloud is the decentralization of cloud resources. Multi-cloud enables flexibility in the enterprise’s physical location, while also reducing latency and shifting the burden of support to the cloud service provider.
Challenges with IT Infrastructure Today
Since multi-cloud and single cloud are defining an integral part of the IT infrastructure today, the following list of challenges focus on the cloud.
Difficult to Manage a Multi-Cloud Environment running on AWS (Amazon Web Services), Azure, GCP (Google Cloud Platform), OCI (Oracle Cloud Infrastructure), Alibaba
Enterprises that need services spanning multiple cloud service providers find it difficult to manage and scale their operations. It is also difficult to inter-connect between clouds. Not having a repeatable network architecture makes it more difficult to manage growth. Shadow IT teams can emerge, hidden VPCs (Virtual Private Clouds) deployed in parallel, and much confusion across the organization on who is responsible for what.
Lack of Visibility and Security in the Multi-Cloud
Cloud service providers do not offer the tools for network engineers to triage issues should a problem occur. Network engineers rely on the cloud service providers to fix issues. Without any investigative tools on hand, it makes it a time-consuming process with a high mean-time-to-resolution (MTTR) and reduced time-to-market (TTM).
Shifting to a focus on critical skills rather than critical roles
It is more important now that enterprises adopt a collaborative approach. Moving to the cloud means learning on how to manage, operate, and use the cloud tools. This means that the relevant skills should not only be required by traditional IT staff, but business users will also benefit in knowing these skills. This will make enterprises more progressive, scalable, and align budgets more closely with business needs instead of territorial thinking.
Moving to a hybrid IT infrastructure model requires new tools and processes. Hybrid cloud means that enterprises may not be limited to just one cloud, but multiple clouds. It will be difficult to train people on all the different clouds on a sustainable basis. Furthermore, there are complex deployment models and increased risk of lock-in and prohibitive costs. There should be a way to manage all these clouds from a single control plane, that reduces costs and avoids vendor lock-in.
End of Information Sharing and Increase of Compliance Requirements
Led by the European roll-out of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), it is possible that other regions will also follow suit with similar compliance requirements. Enterprises need to be aware where their data is stored and travels, which means they need security, visibility, and control that allows them to manage that from a single control plane. They also need to implement appropriate data governance and tools that will enable them to pivot and execute as new compliance requirements become mandatory in the next few years.
Many enterprises have not completely reduced their costs, even if they have adopted the hybrid cloud model. The costs are still staying at about 1:1 ratio.
Many times, the reasons for this lie in the fact that investments are being made where the customer is now. Going forward, enterprises need to be proactive on issues like privacy, security, compliance, and employee training so that their organizations can become more robust, and their operating costs are reduced.
Moving Forward with Multi-Cloud Reality
Since multi-cloud is the most important trend defining IT infrastructure now, there needs to be a solid methodology to realize its full benefits while not losing enterprise control.
As enterprise networking teams peel back the onion on cloud networking, it becomes clear the cloud providers only deliver basic network connectivity. More visibility, more control and advanced networking and security features are needed.
Enterprises need an architecture that will scale to support the rapid evolution of their applications and business for decades, whether in a single cloud or across many clouds. The architecture must define a common control plane that supports native cloud APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) and advanced networking and security capabilities needed to form a common data plane with visibility and control required for an enterprise-class multi-cloud network. This can be achieved by using a repeatable network architecture that utilizes a common transit, which opens amazing possibilities of visibility, security, and connectivity to various kinds of users, on-prem and other cloud resources. The Aviatrix cloud network platform takes advantage of this networking design, leverages cloud service provider APIs, and adds advanced services to provide the capabilities network engineers expect.
Multi-cloud visibility and control are at the top of the list for enterprise IT teams. The public cloud infrastructure is no longer the playground for early adopter pioneers and developers. Enterprises must architect the multi-cloud network in a way that delivers visibility and control across all layers of your cloud network, from the application layer, across transit networking to the access layer. Network engineers have come to expect a level of visibility and control that basic cloud networking construct lack. The architecture should define the operational capabilities your team requires to gain the visibility and control they require, while maintaining the flexibility, simplicity and automation that initially drove the business to the cloud.
Access technologies have been around for a long time, but the cloud is not the legacy data center; cloud is the business. The cloud access layer is an integrated part of your multi-cloud network architecture. Access is the foundation for securely connecting to the on-prem applications, applications running on other clouds, employees, partners, customers, branch offices and legacy data centers into the cloud, to make them part of the cloud, not just plugged into the side of it.
Following best practices of leading companies, Aviatrix also offers a certification for multi-cloud networking that will allow enterprises to get their employees trained on how to use the platform. This will allow enterprises to focus on upgrading critical skills across teams instead of creating critical roles that increase business continuity risk.
See Multi-Cloud Architecture In Action
Let us walk you through a multi-cloud architecture and show you how you can take control of your multi-cloud environment with industry-leading security, visibility, and advanced networking features.
We will arrange a Zoom call with you and your team. We will help you understand how easy it is to get started with a multi-cloud networking approach.
About the Author
Syed Ali is part of the Technical Marketing team at Aviatrix. He is a Aviatrix Certified Professional. He is an experienced IT/SI consultant. In the past, he used to work in a Big 4 management consultancy where he provided systems implementation and strategic advisory services to clients in public sector, transportation, consumer-packaged goods verticals. He holds a MSc Computer Science, BMath, and BBA.
Aside from his interest in cloud networking, Syed is also passionate with community involvement and contributing to efforts in the growth of upcoming generation. He resides in the Toronto, Canada area.