What is cloud-managed networking?

Cloud-managed Networking is an architectural approach to network management and systems whereby management and control services are hosted in a public cloud environment.

Cloud-managed networking explained

Cloud-managed, or cloud-enabled, networking leverages a unified monitoring, reporting, troubleshooting system hosted in the cloud to deliver the scale needed to operate today’s increasingly complex and distributed network workloads. New compute-intensive services across a range of critical areas like AIOps and ZTNA can be unlocked sustainably with minimal onsite disruption.
  • Today's highly mobile users and applications are creating new benchmarks for performance, security, scale, and connectivity from anywhere.
  • Cloud-managed networking provides multiple IT benefits, from unified lifecycle management, to more efficient workflows and scale. It's ideal for everyday enterprises, remote and branch offices, schools, public venues and more.
  • Cloud-managed network services and infrastructure can include a mix of on-premises access points, switches, and certain device-specific software features as well as cloud-based virtual gateways or group-level software features.
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Why cloud-managed networking?

Modern cloud infrastructure provides a new level of agility that is difficult to accomplish with a traditional on-premises model. For many organizations, the ability to take advantage of a simplified architecture and a reduced physical footprint and redirect IT resources to more mission-critical priorities yields attractive benefits.

Cloud-managed networking provides the following advantages:

  • Faster rollout and adoption of new software and feature updates, as well as a reduction in onsite network management devices
  • Simplified network management lifecycles, with more efficient provisioning, deployment, monitoring, reporting, and troubleshooting
  • More flexibility to expand the network and implement failover, replacement, and redundancy services
  • Most cloud-based network management systems leverage industry-leading and standards-based cloud hosting infrastructure provided by AWS, Azure, and others.

How is cloud-managed networking driving innovation?

The popularity of cloud computing opened doors that weren’t possible with siloed, on-prem infrastructure and software. It’s easier to gather data from a larger number of sources, support a wider audience without adding physical resources, and create a vast data lake that provides for more granular and meaningful analytics. The same is true for cloud-managed networking.

  • All network infrastructure under management can feed telemetry into a single data lake for better analysis.
  • AI and machine learning services can identify abnormal patterns to aid in troubleshooting.
  • AI comparisons across sites can guide organizations on how to optimize their networks for performance gains.
  • Information regarding new IoT devices can be more easily be shared, enhancing network security.

What is the difference between cloud-managed networking, cloud networking, and cloud-based networking?

Cloud-managed networking, or cloud-enabled networks, is an architectural approach to network management whereby the management and control planes are hosted in a public cloud environment like AWS, Azure, or others, while the network infrastructure, devices, and certain software features remain on-premises. The network management system can also be described as a cloud-based network management system.

Cloud networking, or cloud-based networking, is an architecture that enables connectivity between users and resources hosted in the public cloud, private cloud or edge networks. It is comprised of network components like the network management system, SD-WAN routers, gateways, switches, firewalls, and other network devices. They are built or installed on compute and storage maintained by a public or private cloud hosting provider.

In enterprise and other end-user facing locations where cellular services are inconsistent, unavailable, or inadequate, on-premises network devices like access points, switches, and gateways serve as the intelligent interconnect between the cloud-based network and the user.

Benefits of cloud-managed networking

The following table compares the benefits of on-premises and cloud-managed networking.


Relies on hardware purchases, rack space, cooling, power, etc.

Only requires licensing for on-premises APs, switches, and gateways for cloud management.

Microservices flexibility

Legacy software principles are common. You must download updates and fixes and adhere to fixed release cycles.

Software is updated when needed, and features are added without affecting other services or release cycles.

Data lake usability

Constrained by the size of your network and storage within deployed appliances.

Volume and variety of data scales to your vendor’s install base.

AIOps and troubleshooting

Limited due to size of usable data.

Troubleshooting insights are available for Wi-Fi, wired, WAN, security, and end-user experience. Models are continuously updated based on new and relevant data. Issues are resolved more quickly.

AIOps and optimization

Limited due to size of one customer’s data lake and the variety of usable information.

Leverages data across customer’s site and similar (anonymous) sites to highlight where specific sites are under-performing. Proactive approach avoids issues.


Requires outside access, firewall rules, access per admin role, maintaining software, etc.

Requires outside access, but cloud providers and infrastructure vendors maintain strict security practices. Software patches are implemented as needed. Data lake can support new services such as client profiling, behavior analytics, and more.

IT resources and skills

Maintenance and training are a constant point of contention.

IT can focus on delivering new services.

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