While enterprise digital transformation projects should be a carefully planned evolution, they often turn out challenging, as different teams and technologies learn to play together on the path towards a common cloud operations model. It’s a phased journey of integrating applications and data resources on multiple cloud providers and local private data centers while managing a mix of legacy and cloud-native services. The refactoring of applications and services necessitates a shift to cloud-native design patterns leveraging a combination of open-source and as a Service (*aaS) components, creating a hybrid cloud compute and networking infrastructure.
While the advantages of a hybrid approach are many—agility, flexibility, and scalability—it’s not without operational challenges. How, for example, to move workloads in a hybrid multicloud world with different network policy definitions? How to provide visibility across the cloud infrastructure whether its on-prem and/or public cloud environments? With the shortage of cloud IT talent, can existing data center teams in NetOps, SecOps, and CloudOps increase collaboration to support multi-disciplinary hybrid, multicloud operations?
Investing in cloud native integrations and security
The journey to a cloud-native application fabric relies on an infrastructure that exposes application-centric APIs. Today, the de-facto abstraction and API platform in the industry is Kubernetes. Thus, a networking infrastructure needs to provide automation, visibility, and security integrations that are Kubernetes-centric.
A key investment in Kubernetes is to integrate with cloud networking and controller solutions using Container Network Interfaces (CNI). For example, Project Calico, an open-source networking and network security solution for containers, virtual machines, and native host-based workloads, is the leading Kubernetes CNI. Layer 5-7 management and control—including mTLS authentication and API endpoint management—are becoming a requirement for most Kubernetes networking traffic, and a service mesh manager can improve security and observability. Integration with Kubernetes controllers make it easier to develop, deploy, and scale container-based applications for digital transformation projects by leveraging best-of-breed cloud components to create a highly productive, yet flexible environment for developers and operation teams alike.
Simplifying multicloud connectivity and visibility
When deciding on where workloads should be run for optimal cost, efficiency, and performance, IT teams need to find a simple and consistent way to interconnect workloads across different public clouds or between public clouds and on-premises data center deployments using a single API. To simplify multicloud connectivity, APIs from different cloud providers need to be abstracted with a single cloud-neutral API while still using each cloud provider’s specific tools, avoiding the need to create an overlay among the clouds. Using network dashboards that provide a unified view across multiple clouds, IT can define the intent that orchestrates an application’s data path among diverse clouds and on-premises sites. A single pane of glass dashboard that integrates with other automation platforms provides operators full stack visibility to better monitor, configure, and troubleshoot connectivity across regions, sites, applications, and cloud objects.
Unifying operations teams with infrastructure as code
As the center of gravity continues to rapidly move to cloud native applications, development and network operations teams will rely more on open-source tooling and Infrastructure as Code (IaC) platforms to accelerate application rollouts. By embracing and integrating these capabilities, InfraOps, and DevOps teams can work together using common tools and models to deliver an idempotent, responsive application delivery environment, even if the underlying infrastructure is heterogeneous in nature.
Enterprise IT can incorporate IaC tools like Ansible, Terraform, and Git to consistently provision cloud resources using automations that reduce errors and the time it takes to manage changes. For example, an Ansible Playbook can deploy network application templates through a multi-site orchestrator. Virtual machines that support an application are deployed through a Terraform plan. Based on the tags configured on the virtual machines, the orchestrator attaches Azure Application Security Groups and AWS Security Groups to allow only the selected inbound and outbound traffic. IaC integrations such as these helps create consistent network policies in a multicloud environment.
Security built-in to the application lifecycle
With the rapid increase in hybrid and cloud-native containerized applications, security must be designed into the infrastructure both on-premises and in the cloud. The goal is to provide a continuous security process during the end-to-end containerized applications lifecycle, from code to runtime. Ideally a container security platform generates and applies network policies and security rules and encrypts traffic between services. For example, using service mesh mTLS authentication and TLS 1.3 encryption, application-level flows are encrypted among pods, eliminating the need for IPSec gateway overhead while preventing Man-in-the-Middle security threats. Enforcing the use of common security policies also reduces the cost and complexity of securing and managing hybrid and multicloud deployments on Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud and on-premises Kubernetes deployments. Incorporating security into the container development process improves application resiliency by limiting an attack to just a single container, protecting application and associated sensitive data.
Here again, a multi-site orchestrator provides NetOps and SecOps teams with the ability to manage consistent connectivity and security policies across multiple data center sites and fabrics. An automation framework pushes security policies to multiple data centers and public clouds across the globe in a single step. This means that IT can move applications from on-prem to cloud provider “A” and then to cloud provider “B” and all the policies are automatically replicated and translated without human intervention.
To support enterprise ransformation, the data center is where the data is
The data center is literally everywhere. To maximize support for enterprise transformations, the applications and workflows that are integral to digitization of business processes must be adaptable, resilient, and secure. The cloud network that connects people, devices, and applications is key to achieving those qualities. Providing software-defined cloud networking, orchestrators, IaC integrations, and dashboards that unite NetOps, SecOps, and DevOps to manage hybrid cloud operations ensures a smoother path for enterprise transformation.