Moving IT resources to the cloud doesn’t eliminate the need to follow networking best practices — it reinforces it.
The lack of communication between application developers/cloud teams and on-premises/networking teams isn’t a new phenomenon; it’s been a thing for years. However, as the pandemic accelerated the remote work movement and, subsequently, cloud migrations, it’s bringing this disconnect to the forefront. For example, a recent research report from IT and data management research firm Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) found that as companies accelerate cloud adoption, only 28% consider themselves entirely successful in realizing the benefits of their cloud investments. The report also notes, “success hinges on a company’s ability to integrate its cloud team and traditional network infrastructure team at all levels (design, implementation, and operation). The impacts of not doing so are striking.”
There are several pitfalls this communication disconnect can cause, but here are some of the most critical ones:
Security and Compliance
EMA’s survey found that 73% of enterprises experienced security or compliance problems within the previous year due to poor collaboration between network and cloud teams. A common culprit for this pitfall is that cloud teams wrongly assume that the cloud provider takes care of security. However, as the Microsoft 365 Shared Responsibility Model states, “With Microsoft 365, it’s your data — you control it — and it’s your responsibility to protect it.” Another issue is that typically in the early stages of a cloud project, everything works fine, so teams tend to assume it will be the same when a new app or service is scaled-up and made available enterprise-wide. The cloud team realizes its costly oversight only after a data leak, compliance violation, or downtime occurs.
Operational Monitoring and Troubleshooting
When you put workloads in the cloud, you lose visibility into many of the networking details IT teams have access to with their on-prem deployments. Visibility ties directly into the security issues mentioned earlier, but it’s also critical for identifying and mitigating configuration-related operational problems. Unfortunately, the lack of visibility often rears its head after the deployment has been rolled out to the entire organization, like the previous pitfall. For example, a typical configuration issue happens with IP address routing designs. Because of the limits cloud providers place on IP prefixes, if they’re not configured properly, it could cause the entire network to crash in the cloud. In the EMA survey, 36% of respondents reported significant downtime caused by issues like this one. Fortunately, there are tools and solutions available to give IT teams the insights and management capabilities they need.
One of the primary appeals of cloud computing is the ease of scalability. The downside, however, is that networking errors can quickly become amplified as more resources are consumed because everything in the cloud is metered. One example we often see in this category is the connections cloud teams choose, such as the virtual private network (VPN). Despite being the easiest type of connection to deploy, VPNs have two downsides in a cloud environment: they’re the most expensive and least reliable option. For a small business with a few employees, it’s not a big issue, but when you have 20 VPNs, it’s very time-consuming to pinpoint networking problems. A better option is using dedicated circuits and a control system. Even though they’re more challenging to set up than VPNs, they’re more reliable, easier to manage and less costly to operate long-term.
Communication is the Key to Successful Cloud/Hybrid Deployments
The examples listed above are not an exhaustive list of the problems companies experience when cloud and networking teams operate in silos. Still, they’re meant to give an overview of the most prevalent ones that will show up if your company operates in this manner. The good news is that the solution to this problem doesn’t cost tens of thousands of dollars to fix (assuming you don’t already have a cloud networking issue). Instead, it’s all about recognizing both teams’ critical roles and ensuring they collaborate on cloud projects moving forward. Executives play an essential role in bringing networking and cloud teams together. Once that’s in place, bringing in a consultant with expertise on both sides of the house can speed up this paradigm shift.
Technology solutions such as Cisco Intersight, also play an invaluable role in multi-cloud and hybrid cloud environments. Intersight is a SaaS platform that manages, automates and optimizes your infrastructure and apps across data center, edge and clouds. It also features a workload optimizer that helps users get the most from their infrastructure, boosting application performance and lowering costs with a real-time decision engine for hybrid cloud.
At Presidio, we also offer a secure cloud networking workshop that brings together our field engineer cloud and on-prem team with the client’s network, security and cloud teams. We work with clients to correct potential cloud networking problems and implement best practices to optimize costs, security and operations.
There is a fee for these three-to-six half-day workshops, but it’s much less than what it costs to recover from the cloud catastrophes that occur when companies wait for problems to occur and then try to find a solution.