What is Cloud Networking?

Cloud Networking Explained

Cloud networking, or cloud-managed networking, provides the visibility, management, and scale needed to operate today’s distributed cloud and on-premises network, security, and location infrastructure, as well as user-specific services.
  • Network capabilities and resources are hosted in a public or private cloud platform, managed in-house or by a service provider, and available on demand.
  • Today’s highly mobile users and applications demand the performance, security, and management provided by cloud networking flexibility and scale.
  • Cloud networking also offers IT efficiencies and cost savings for office spaces, schools, work from home environments, and healthcare and public venues.
Sun reflecting in the windows of two tall office buildings

Why cloud networking?

Modern cloud infrastructure provides a new level of agility that is difficult to accomplish with a traditional on-premises model. For many organizations, it makes more sense to take advantage of virtual services and infrastructure rather than buying and maintaining physical management appliances.

Cloud networking provides the following advantages:

  • Faster rollout and adoption of new software and feature updates
  • Fewer network devices required in branch offices, in addition to savings in the data center
  • Expansion plans and implementation of fail-over or redundancy services
  • Increased security that leverages the expertise of cloud providers and their network infrastructure vendor

How is cloud 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 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.

Benefits of cloud networking

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

BenefitsOn-premisesCloud Networking
Scale

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.

Security

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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