A Gartner research note – Utilizing Network Service Provider Direct WAN Connectivity for the Cloud - highlights the importance of choosing the right network connection to ensure full value from cloud investments. Although the public Internet has been the prevalent choice, organizations have two further options – private WAN and exchange-based cloud Internet.
While public Internet is a convenient, cost-effective method, it may not offer the security and performance required by mission-critical, real-time and data-intensive applications, or workloads subject to regulatory compliance or stringent SLAs.
To meet those requirements, Gartner forecast that 2019 will see 30 percent of public cloud connections based on non-Internet solutions, up from around 5 percent in 2016. The aim is to optimize customer and user experience by providing fast, reliable access to applications and services – a key element of digital transformation.
Match the Network to the Workload
However, choosing the right network architecture for the cloud is not a simple decision. One network solution may not be suitable for all scenarios. Network planners need to take a number of factors and use cases into account, including type of workload, coverage, cost, security, scalability, performance, availability and provisioning time.
For an organization with multiple branches, for example, WAN-based connectivity represents an effective solution that builds on existing infrastructure. Cloud service providers can connect directly into the enterprise WAN, providing branches with direct access to applications and services without intermediate routing via the enterprise data center.
Performance is a critical issue. Public Internet connections may be subject to jitter, latency, dropped packets and other performance problems that impact user experience. For applications and services where performance, traffic prioritization and Quality of Service are essential, private connections can offer SLAs at levels to meet application requirements.
Availability is another important consideration. Private networks such as MPLS or Ethernet incorporate multiple features to ensure resiliency and maintain availability to users, compared with public Internet which is at risk from denial of service attacks and other potential disruptions. Private circuits also offer higher levels of security, particularly important for protecting sensitive data or workloads subject to regulatory compliance.
SD-WAN Takes Benefits Further
While traditional WAN technologies provide significant cloud networking benefits compared to Internet-based solutions, SD-WAN can further increase the benefits. SD-WANs utilize software to implement policies that automate network configuration and routing to ensure the optimum path for different types of traffic.
This ensures that the network has the capacity, reliability and agility to meet changing business requirements. And, because SD-WAN is a cloud-based network, capacity can be scaled on demand with no delay or disruption to services.
Reliability improves because SD-WANs choose the best route dynamically to take account of traffic levels and any network congestion or other problems. SD-WAN technology incorporates intelligent path control. This automatically selects the fastest route for different types of traffic and prioritizes mission-critical data or applications such as voice.
With software selecting the fastest and highest-quality path for the application, the result is better user experience for employees who rely on fast, reliable access to cloud applications and services.