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Getting the most out of networks and apps for remote workforces

Zeus Kerravala
Founder and principal analyst with ZK Research

Enterprises need to fully harness their networks and applications as they support remote workforces around the world today. Multicloud environments offer the broadest visibility and allow enterprises to piece together different combinations of services from different clouds. This was something businesses were looking at previously but the massive wave of work from home has pushed organizations over the multi-cloud fence. The struggle is how to improve performance and reliability.

By implementing a Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN), enterprises can interconnect workloads from multiple cloud environments with the security and performance traditionally expected only in their own data centers.

Even under normal circumstances, enterprises require flexibility in the distribution of workloads without compromising security, reliability, or performance. Except now, enterprises are facing real scenarios of having to scale up practically overnight to accommodate remote workers. But as many piece together different combinations of services from different clouds, they are building somewhat unwieldy multicloud environments comprised of software-as-a-service (SaaS) or platform-as-a-service (PaaS) cloud offerings, or mixes of public infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) environments.

Enterprises that want to get the most out of their networks and apps for greater quality of experience (QoE) have to embrace multicloud environments that support a broader spectrum of workloads now and in the future. Successfully migrating to multicloud requires a seamless blend of private and multiple public clouds, as well as a SD-WAN to securely and reliably direct traffic to cloud-based apps.

An existing WAN can evolve to make the move to cloud easier and cheaper, and without a “forklift upgrade.” Enterprises have several options. For example, Oracle SD-WAN can be deployed in overlay mode with an existing WAN. So, a company with an extensive remote workforce can choose a carrier-agnostic SD-WAN, which can be deployed per location as a physical appliance, virtually or directly, in the cloud. Oracle SD-WAN is built with that flexibility in mind. Together with Oracle SD-WAN Aware, a centralized management system that provides analytics for Oracle SD-WAN, enterprises can have a good handle on app performance.

A recent analyst report found that demand accelerated the shift to SD-WANs and cloud networking. In fact, 17 percent of WAN traffic is now “outside-outside,” meaning it’s connecting a source outside the enterprise to another outside source. More than half of companies deploying SD-WANs are using them to connect clouds to each other (outside-outside traffic), as well as data centers to clouds. With so many employees working work-from-home, these connections will continue to grow.

As multicloud becomes the architecture of choice, there are several best practices enterprises should follow:

Visibility and control over cloud services. Provisioning and operations need to avoid the risks of “shadow IT,” created when procuring SaaS outside the IT organizations and storing data in unsanctioned locations. A cloud view of where and how traffic travels—from cloud to ground or within the cloud—will require analytics and visibility into how cloud services are used, by whom and at what performance level;
Manage process and device sprawl. As dynamic cloud services move across hosts, distributed management over multisite and multinetwork infrastructure will rein in the chaos that can come with thousands of devices and associated gateways, not to mention increased troubleshooting via patches, updates, and backups;
Foster control and reduce operational overhead. Zero-touch provisioning and centralized control, whether in the cloud or on-premise, will ensure no additional skill sets or resources are needed. Cloud resources are provisioned when coordinating between physical and virtualized networks;
Simplify licensing and maintenance. Cloud introduces a per-use licensing model—an improvement over traditional, inflexible software licensing, but still viewed with some trepidation by those who want the predictability of subscription or perpetual license models. Transitioning to the cloud helps eliminate software maintenance issues, as SaaS, IaaS, and other subscription models offer more economic and practical ways to accommodate usage and volume fluctuations during peak and off-peak periods;
Reduce hardware burden. Companies often seek cost-effective ways to offer multiple services to multiple tenants on few hardware appliances. That can be accomplished with multi-tenanted approaches and virtualization. Multi-tenancy provides the necessary protection to individual clients, while virtualization provides the flexibility to run on any platform or more than one service on the same platform.
The current reality has brought to light the importance of managing, securing, and scaling networks. Embracing a multicloud approach will allow companies to cater to elastic business needs.

To learn more, please read my White Paper on how to choose the right SD-WAN for your business and read our other SD-WAN blogs.