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Network Engineering and Operations in the Multi-Cloud Era

Michelle Kincaid

Network Engineering


In this post, we provide an overview of a new research report from EMA analyst Shamus McGillicuddy. The report is based on the responses of 250 enterprise IT networking professionals who note challenges and key technology requirements for hybrid and multi-cloud networking.

A new research report, “Network Engineering and Operations in the Multi-Cloud Era,” looks at the networking challenges enterprises face as they move to cloud environments. The report, written by EMA analyst Shamus McGillicuddy (and sponsored by Kentik), draws from a survey of 250 enterprise IT networking professionals, and highlights key technology requirements for hybrid and multi-cloud networking, as well as the emerging tool strategies. In this post, we share some of the key findings.

Hybrid Cloud Networking Challenges

As we typically see when any new technology or IT trend moves past the R&D phase and into broad adoption, security risks seem to arise. Therefore, it’s no surprise to see that this study found “security is a huge issue for hybrid cloud networking.”

However, it’s also worth noting that network complexity and lack of visibility are top challenges for enteprise NetOps teams. From our perspective, that’s because today’s cloud environments are becoming more dynamic, with unpredictable DevOps deployments adding huge variability to load. Instrumentation, incident response, and service assurance are all on the list of tasks now made dramatically more complex. To keep traffic flowing reliably, NetOps teams know they need pervasive, granular, real-time visibility, and the legacy tools they’re using fail to deliver.

Cloud Networking Performance Management

Within the research, EMA asked the 250 enterprise NetOps respondents to describe how their network performance management tools support them from the following three perspectives:

  • Network performance to and from cloud applications
  • Application and server performance in the cloud
  • Network performance between cloud workloads

“The chart (below) shows that slightly less than half of enterprises are able to attain all three aspects of visibility across their public and private cloud deployments,” wrote the analyst. “Smaller minorities are gaining insight into these various aspects of performance with one of either public or private cloud infrastructure, but not both. Over all, this means that roughly half of enterprises lack end-to-end performance management capabilities across their entire public and private cloud environment.”

Legacy Network Management Tools Failure

The majority (74%) of enterprise networking professionals surveyed for this research noted the legacy network management tool or tools they were using failed to address their cloud requirements. “Thirty-nine percent were forced to find another solution, but 35 percent were able to customize the tools to meet their needs. Large enterprises struggle with this issue more often.”

Why do these tools fail? Cost and complexity, according to EMA.

Network Automation

“There are countless engineering tasks involved in building out hybrid cloud and multi-cloud networks,” writes analyst McGillicuddy in the report. “Given the rate of change in the public cloud, engineering automation is a major goal for network teams.”

With cloud costs and complexity issues bubbling up, and legacy network management tools failing to support enterprise NetOps teams, network automation is also the rise. However, NetOps teams note they do want to maintain manual control over some network engineering and configuration tasks, acording to the EMA research.

The above data shows, “Network teams excel at applying automation to network security controls in the cloud. DDI management (DNS, DHCP, and IP addressing), network monitoring configuration, and routing are also very frequently automated. However, network security monitoring is less often automated,” notes EMA.

A Modern Approach to Multi-Cloud Networking

To see more from EMA’s research, download the full report here. Additionally, you can learn how Kentik’s modern network analytics approach helps enterprises address the challenges of multi-cloud visibility, complexity, cost management, security, and much more by downloading our Kentik cloud visibility solution brief or via demo request.

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