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Optimize your enterprise network design for hybrid cloud

New networking bottlenecks emerge as businesses put more of their workloads into the public cloud. Options such as VPNs, direct connections from cloud providers and internet exchange points can help.

Public and hybrid cloud adoption has a major ripple effect on enterprise network design. New bottlenecks arise, and some businesses need to alter their network configurations -- particularly those for wide area networks -- to ensure they get the performance they need.

With hybrid and public clouds, in particular, the networking focus shifts heavily to wide area network (WAN) connections. Businesses need to link their data centers to their public cloud provider's sites, and often rely on their existing internet lines to do so. But this approach has shortcomings.

First, bandwidth is an issue. Traffic that used to roam about the data center now needs to move off-site, often increasing WAN traffic. Consequently, organizations may need to upgrade their internet lines, which can be expensive; pricing depends on a business' location and amount of bandwidth needed.

But in some cases, higher speed lines may not be available. Carriers only deploy lines in densely populated areas with high demand. Urban businesses usually have plenty of network choices, but rural offices may have trouble finding high bandwidth links.

Also, public internet bandwidth is given on a first-come, first-serve basis, so network availability is not guaranteed. Delays in freeing up bandwidth can cause transmission troubles; in some cases, files may not reach their destination in the public cloud and have to be resent. If users need to exchange large, complex files, such as engineering documents or videos, public internet connections may not be a good choice.

Consider private options for enterprise network design

Rather than deploy a public internet link, businesses can use a private network line that serves as a direct connection from their network to their cloud provider's network.

Rather than deploy a public internet link, businesses can use a private network line that serves as a direct connection from their network to their cloud provider's network. Some cloud providers offer these links directly to users for additional costs.

"Increasingly, we see cloud vendors, like Amazon Web Services, work more closely with carriers, like AT&T, to provide customers with high-speed network connections," said Brad Casemore, research director, Datacenter Networks at IDC.

One option is to set up an Internet Exchange Point, a high-speed link between the two networks. Such connections eliminate internet delays, improve network performance and increase transmission reliability.

Leased lines, such as frame relay or Asynchronous Transfer Mode lines, represent another option for enterprise network design. These connections increase network complexity, as users need management tools and visibility into a vendor's connections, but improve network availability because outside traffic can't disrupt exchanges.

Virtual private networks offer another choice, and come in two varieties. Some are based on layer-three protocols, such as Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) and Border Gateway Protocol, which operate at the router level. Others rely on Layer 2 services, such as Ethernet-over-MPLS and Overlay Transport Virtualization, which function at the switch level.

Test your grasp of hybrid cloud migration and related challenges

Test your knowledge of hybrid cloud migration and other shifting aspects of cloud networking. Use this quiz to determine how well you understand these cloud challenges.

As businesses adopt new WAN services, they need to know what the costs will be. Vendors often offer variable pricing models: bandwidth is charged per megabyte; network appliances are charged for CPU consumption; and data logging requires varying amounts of storage. Total monthly charges can vary significantly from month to month.

Fixed pricing is easier to budget because a corporation pays a set fee each month. However, with this option, a business may pay for network bandwidth that it doesn't use each month.

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