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The multi-cloud networking mandate

With most organizations using more than two public clouds, new multi-cloud networking strategies are essential to enable cross-cloud traffic and visibility across multiple clouds.

The increased enterprise adoption of multiple public clouds can't be ignored. As organizations continue to mature their digital transformation initiatives, more applications and workloads are being distributed across multiple public clouds.

According to research from TechTarget's Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), 86% of respondents are now using two or more public cloud infrastructure providers (IaaS and PaaS) within their IT environments.

The vast majority of organizations now use more than two public cloud providers.
The vast majority of organizations now use more than two public cloud providers.

Unlike just three years ago, when ESG's "2019 Technology Spending Intentions Survey" revealed 78% of organizations spent primarily on one cloud provider and allocated much smaller shares to others, organizations are now using multiple public clouds in earnest. ESG research shows more than half of the respondents (53%) use multiple cloud service providers (CSPs) in a meaningful way.

ESG survey respondents use cloud infrastructure services from at least two CSPs.
Survey respondents said they consumed public cloud infrastructure services from at least two unique CSPs.

Time to rethink multiple public cloud connections

As a result of this shift, organizations need to rethink how they connect to multiple public cloud providers. To enable cross-cloud traffic, organizations typically create a hub-and-spoke network, or star network, architecture that relies on on-premises locations (data centers, colocation facilities or branch offices) to act as the hub that traffic flows through to connect disparate public cloud environments. These network architectures can be difficult to effectively manage and scale, and hairpinning traffic can affect performance negatively. But the challenges don't stop there.

While CSPs offer similar networking services, creating a cloud-based network requires knowledge of the architectural principles and best practices used by each CSP, as well as CSP-specific tools and interfaces. The current lack of tool integration prevents organizations from establishing and maintaining end-to-end visibility into networks originating from each CSP, let alone visibility into networked resources across multiple public clouds.

Cloud security also becomes an issue, as CSPs do not offer organizations the ability to apply consistent policies across networks based in multiple clouds. Given the highly distributed nature of modern IT environments, it shouldn't be a surprise that more than half (54%) of organizations ESG surveyed in its 2021 technology spending intentions research said their network environment was more or significantly more complex than two years ago.

The multi-cloud networking mandate

Instead of having to rely on legacy hub-and-spoke network architectures to connect multiple CSPs and become proficient with each cloud provider's network functions, new architectures have been developed to enable multi-cloud networking. These modern architectures ensure multiple different public clouds can be networked directly with each other. This eliminates hairpinning traffic through on-premises locations, which improves performance and, ultimately, customer experience.

Even more compelling is that these multi-cloud networks abstract the underlying networking services of each CSP. As a result, organizations don't need to learn and develop deep expertise with each CSP. Instead, these multi-cloud networks can dramatically simplify how organizations architect networks spanning a number of public cloud environments.

But why does this matter? For organizations beginning or maturing their digital transformation initiatives, ESG's 2022 technology spending intentions research highlights that the top goal (52%) for IT is to drive greater levels of operational efficiency. Yet in the same survey, 54% of respondents said their organizations are facing a problematic shortage in cloud/IT architecture skills. By using multi-cloud networking options, organizations can simplify how they connect and secure resources distributed across multiple public cloud environments while closing a critical skills gap, which dramatically reduces complexity and drives operational efficiency.

Vendors tackle multi-cloud networking

A number of companies are developing options for this market, including Aviatrix Systems, F5, Prosimo, Alkira, Cisco and Arrcus. New entrants to the game will elevate awareness of multi-cloud networking. These include VMware, whose third act is focused on multi-cloud environments. VMware recently announced Project Northstar for multi-cloud networking and Project Watch for consistent policy deployment across distributed applications. Other established networking or startup vendors are sure to follow.

As your organization distributes applications across multiple public clouds, multi-cloud networking isn't a 'nice to have'; it is a mandate.

ESG research validates that enterprises are rapidly adopting multiple public clouds (IaaS and PaaS). Organizations with multi-cloud environments should be aware that proven multi-cloud networking options are available today, with more coming, to enable organizations to mitigate risk, drive greater operational efficiencies, reduce complexity and ensure greater agility and performance.

As your organization distributes applications across multiple public clouds, multi-cloud networking isn't a "nice to have"; it is a mandate.

Enterprise Strategy Group is a division of TechTarget.

This was last published in November 2022

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