More and more organizations are taking a cloud-first approach to IT. Even those with expansive on-premises data centers are changing the way they approach the delivery of IT services because of the benefits of cloud technologies. In fact, Gartner has predicted that $216 billion of IT spending that traditionally has been invested in on-premises infrastructure will be redirected to the cloud by 2020.
The vast majority of organizations are adopting a multiple cloud model. According to RightScale’s 2018 State of the Cloud report, 51 percent of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy that combines public and private clouds, while 21 percent are using multiple public clouds and 10 percent are using multiple private clouds.
A top concern when moving to the cloud is WAN reliability and performance. Organizations not only need sufficient bandwidth for large file transfers and data replication, but the ability to prioritize real-time services such as voice and video conferencing and mission-critical applications. They also need to ensure adequate security to protect sensitive data and meet regulatory compliance requirements. Software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) checks all the boxes, making it the ideal solution for multi-cloud access.
How SD-WAN Enables Cloud Access
Broadband Internet links would seem to be the best choice for cloud access — they’re less expensive than traditional telco services and generally can be provisioned pretty quickly. However, the Internet provides only “best-effort” data transmission. Data packets may be dropped, delayed or arrive out of order. Without a highly reliable, low-latency connection, the cloud user experience is going to suffer.
Organizations leery of unreliable Internet connectivity traditionally would backhaul WAN traffic from remote sites through headquarters over multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) links. And it worked, until the cloud brought a deluge of Internet traffic, causing bottlenecks in the hub-and-spoke WAN. What’s more, MPLS takes a long time to provision, and is expensive and inflexible, making it incompatible with the cloud value proposition.
SD-WAN optimizes cloud access by enabling policy-based management of multiple connections in a hybrid WAN. Through intelligent routing, SD-WAN selects the right connection based on circuit availability and workload requirements. This not only optimizes performance, but also ensures that there is always adequate bandwidth to meet the demands of mission-critical cloud applications. SD-WAN also uses encryption, segmentation, and other techniques to better secure cloud traffic.
Best Path to the Cloud
Cisco goes further with its Cloud onRamp for SaaS. Administrators add cloud applications and services to the Cisco vManage dashboard and configure access through direct Internet connections or gateway sites such as a regional hub or co-location facility. When direct Internet access is used, security policies may be enforced through a secure web gateway or cloud access security broker.
The Cisco SD-WAN fabric continuously monitors cloud application performance and rates the user experience from 0 (poor) to 10 (optimum). It uses this data to automatically select the best-performing path from user to cloud, and provides administrators with unmatched visibility into real-time and historical cloud application performance.
The cloud has become a core component of the IT environment, with organizations devoting ever-larger portions of their budgets to cloud solutions. That’s because the cloud delivers key business benefits, including the ability to preserve capital, reduce operational overhead, implement new services faster and scale on demand.
The WAN is critical for cloud access, but traditional WAN architectures are ill-suited to cloud computing. Cisco Cloud onRamp for SaaS leverages Cisco’s SD-WAN fabric and vManage tools to ensure optimal cloud connectivity for a stellar user experience.