A change is in the air for enterprise connectivity

Cloud has changed the way enterprises handle IT. In fact it’s such an established model that it’s hard to imagine how we got along before cloud. Did we really all rely on client/server access to applications operating out of an on-prem data centre? Or was that a bad dream?

But while computing has been transformed beyond recognition, we can’t in all honesty say the same of enterprise networks. The WAN has simply not kept pace with the revolutionary developments we have seen at the level of the application. Now it has got to a point where this mismatch can no longer be ignored. Enterprises want inflexibility replaced with agility and complexity changed for simplicity. They don’t want to be bothered with a lot of networking jargon, or the nuisance of having to patch together their own solution from bits and pieces. Above all they don’t want the job of dealing with the competing and conflicting products of multiple vendors, or the restrictions and expense of relying on just one. They want a WAN that just does its thing for a predictable cost, that flexs up or down according to need, and which is complementary with their cloud strategy.

We are in the early foothills of realising this dream. A number of organisations are already enjoying connectivity that has been designed from the ground up to properly support hybrid and multi-cloud strategies, as well as enable some of the innovations happening at the network edge. This new type of agile and dynamic connectivity can be loosely called cloud-native networking and is espoused in one form or another by a number of digitally native providers – we’re talking about the likes of Alkira, Aryaka, Aviatrix, Cato, Cisco, Hashicorp, Isovalent, NetFoundry, Prisma Cloud, VMware and Zscaler. Other bigger and older vendors are also joining in with the spirit of the thing, albeit without the freedom that start-up status gives you.

A foretaste of this appetite for better manageability was demonstrated by the enthusiasm shown for SD-WAN, in itself something of a forerunner of a more cloud-friendly approach to connectivity.

Then we had the idea of the secure access service edge, or SASE, defined by Gartner to bring security and networking into one bundle, delivered as a cloud service. Then we had zero trust network access (ZTNA) which controls network access on an adaptive trust model. All of these innovations are about giving users seamless and secure connectivity to applications without exposing them to vulnerabilities or to unnecessary complexity.

The next level is all about a unified network infrastructure with on-demand hybrid and multi-cloud connectivity, one that brings together network and security services, end-to-end visibility, controls and governance, all delivered as-a-service. Developers will flock to such a model, creating increasingly bespoke multi-cloud networking solutions optimised for the needs of individual enterprises.

These ideas will be explored in a lot more detail at the following event:



These links will also help with understanding this topic:




Cato Networks





Prisma Cloud, by Palo Alto Networks



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