By Mark Fox, CEO, Zonic Group
As we move into 2024, it is already clear that multi-cloud is as big a topic of conversation as ever among senior IT professionals and decision makers. And there is no hotter subject of debate than that around how best to securely connect the diverse end points that make up the multi-cloud world.
Scott Raynovich, Founder and Principal Analyst with Futuriom, has made it his business to look at trends in multi-cloud networking and network-as-a-service (NaaS) technology and services. A recent Futuriom survey has strengthened his view that networking will come to be regarded as ‘the linchpin to multi-cloud and hybrid cloud strategies’. “That’s because all distributed applications and data must be connected by secure, intelligent networks,” he explains.
The survey found that a majority (90%) of respondents in networking and IT roles believe networking to be ‘critical’ or ‘very important’ for multi-cloud success. The correct technology platforms and services will, argues Futuriom, help build secure, virtualized networking across enterprise data center, edge, service provider and public cloud services.
Multi-cloud networks have the power to simplify or accelerate hybrid cloud and multi-cloud adoption, with expected benefits that include improved application performance, speed and agility in deploying applications, and not least the dividend of cost savings. Managing applications across clouds is clearly critical, as is managing applications policy and security across clouds.
So what are the technologies that will make this multi-cloud networking magic happen? And what will help to integrate new AI breakthroughs into the mix? Futuriom respondents believe the arrival of new types of 5G service, better forms of edge compute and private wireless will prove key.
Who are the companies that will be enabling all this – making the solutions that will drive the next wave of multi-cloud migration and delivering the networking glue that makes it a reality? Here is a selection of our top tips (in alphabetic order rather than order of importance):
- SASE continues to be a crucial way for enterprises to both unite and protect their multi-cloud endpoints. Aryaka remains one of the pace setters here with its Unified SASE solutions. Last year saw record growth in partner-led sales of its managed SD-WAN and SASE solutions to businesses worldwide. It also emerged as a winner in the Fierce Innovation Awards in the Business Services category for these services. The Awards program is produced by Fierce Telecom and Fierce Wireless, recognizing the creators, makers, and doers of outstanding services and equipment launched the past 12 months. No reason to expect 2024 to see a slowing down of this pace.
- Aviatrix, whose very DNA is in cloud networking, has recently released its 2024 Secure Cloud Networking Field Report. This examines the challenges facing today’s cloud, networking, and security practitioners, and provides insight into how enterprises can overcome them. While most companies are now deploying cloud-based technologies, the survey uncovered that there’s a silent struggle to maximize value from those investments. Many of the challenges organizations have faced over the past several years have evolved, but are still very much with us. Cost and visibility are clearly major barriers to cloud. Respondents said these are the biggest hurdles to their organization taking full advantage of multi-cloud. Legacy approaches and lagging skill sets are also causes for cloud security concern. More cloud network outages were caused by firewalls (31.2%) than cyber-attacks (15.3%) in the past year. In addition, human error caused 47.1% of outages.
- If security is the biggest of the multi-cloud questions, then Extended Detection and Response (XDR) is clearly one of the answers, a popular way to improve security operations and eliminate risks. XDR is a comprehensive cybersecurity solution that goes beyond traditional security tools, designed to provide a more holistic approach to threat detection and response across multiple IT environments. But decision makers should probably query whether standard XDR tools will ultimately result in the sort of inconsistency that makes threats harder to detect. That’s why many have been turning to the SASE-based XDR of Cato Networks with its acknowledgement that the basic technology needs to evolve, overcoming the data-quality limitations of existing XDR solutions to produce cleaner data for more accurate threat detection. This latest type of XDR is built into a SASE platform to enable a more comprehensive approach to security operations.
- Another multi-cloud innovator is Cloudbrink which has now added firewall-as-a-service (FWaaS) to its zero-trust access solution, the first vendor to provide granular security controls all the way to the user edge for the comprehensive protection of endpoint devices. This kind of high-performance zero-trust application connectivity is ideal for the hybrid workforce, with traditional and next-generation firewalls all failing to protect end users and their devices. Offloading remote-user security functions improves the stability of existing firewalls and the network performance experienced by remote users, Cloudbrink claims.
- Cloudbrink proves that the best kind of networking and security for the multi-cloud era is that which is designed for that era, not patched up from older solutions. Embodying this ethic is Tata Communications which has been deploying its data fabric in a variety of high-profile use cases. Not least of these is Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) which is now deploying Tata’s cloud-first SD-WAN technology across all 128 of its sites. The capability will allow real-time connectivity between JLR’s global headquarters in Coventry in the United Kingdom and its plants, warehouses, sales centres, data centres and cloud services. This ‘digital fabric’ comprises agile infrastructure, platforms and managed services, helping to integrate systems, workforces, suppliers, stakeholders and customers across the globe, delivering a seamless flow of data to enrich key aspects of the business ecosystem.
- Zscaler is another proven leader in cloud security. Taking this to the next level is Zscaler Zero Trust SASE, an industry first, single-vendor SASE solution built utilizing Zscaler Zero Trust AI to help organizations reduce cost and complexity while implementing Zero Trust security across users, devices, and workloads. Zscaler has also shipped its Zero Trust SD-WAN solution and portfolio of plug-and-play appliances to help customers modernize secure connectivity for branch offices, factories, and data centers while also eliminating the need for ineffective firewalls and VPNs. A truly new approach for a multi-cloud world.