The cloud is transforming IT infrastructure and making it possible for any size business to adopt and afford enterprise-class apps, computing and storage without the cost, complexity, and constraints of traditional networks. Cloud networking shares many of the same benefits of other cloud IT services such as rapid deployment, easy administration, no new hardware to buy, no software updates or annual maintenance, pay-as-you-grow subscription pricing, built-in scalability and redundancy, and anywhere access via an Internet connection.
Cloud networking is a new networking paradigm for building and managing secure private networks over the public Internet by utilizing global cloud computing infrastructure. In cloud networking, traditional network functions and services including connectivity, security, management and control, are pushed to the cloud and delivered as a service. There are two categories within cloud networking: Cloud-Enabled Networking (CEN) and Cloud-Based Networking (CBN).
CEN moves management and certain aspects of control (such as policy definition) into the cloud, but keeps connectivity and packet-mode functions – such as routing, switching and security services – local and often in hardware.
By comparison, CBN moves all core networking functions, including addressing and the actual packet path, into the cloud and eliminates the need for any local hardware other than that which provides an internet connection. This latter category, which includes companies such as Pertino and Aryaka, is often referred to as Network-as-a-Service (NaaS), because it follows the same subscription and delivery model as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions. While CBN providers are, by definition, NaaS, many NaaS offerings are not necessarily constructed the same way. To better understand this distinction, consider the following analogy: Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a cloud-based service that lets users purchase a robust and elastic computing infrastructure on a compute/hour basis. By contrast, users can contract with a hosting provider to manage hosted servers. Both are computing delivered as a service, but the economics, extensibility, and capabilities between the two approaches vary widely. In the same vein, there is a new generation of cloud-based NaaS players that are built as an overlay on global cloud data centers and utilize software-defined networking (SDN) and virtualization technologies to provide an elastic and resilient NaaS that can host multiple virtual network services. Other NaaS providers simply host single-function network equipment or virtual appliances in co-location centers and sell access and management as service.
Cloud-based networks only require an Internet connection and work over any physical infrastructure, wired or wireless, public or private. CBN has the added benefit of not requiring any additional hardware beyond that required for internet connectivity. Most cloud networks utilize per user or device subscription pricing, so there is little to no upfront costs and users pay-as-you-grow.
Cloud networks are similar to a virtual private network (VPN) because they enable users to securely access files, printers, applications, etc. from anywhere in the world, on any device. However, cloud networks are multi-tenant private virtual cloud networks that overlay the Internet. Each virtual cloud network functions like a borderless LAN and provides fully switched, any-to-any connectivity between servers, PCs, and mobile devices from anywhere. NaaS delivery means that traditional operational aspects of building and managing a VPN such as topology, traffic engineering, capacity planning, high-availability, and the network operation center (NOC), are performed by the cloud network operator and not the customer.
Cloud networking is a new way to market distributed enterprise networks that delivers enterprise-class network capabilities around the globe via a highly resilient, multi-tenant application that requires no capital investment in networking equipment. Unlike traditional hardware-based legacy solutions, cloud networking is extremely simple, enabling businesses to deploy remote locations in minutes and operate their distributed networks via a cloud-based application, while maintaining centralized control and network visibility. These services are also subscription-based.
Cloud-based networking offers the same benefits of cloud computing.