Integrating On-Premises SDN with Cloud VPC

One of the best examples of software defined networking (SDN) in action is in the cloud. When organizations use compute and storage resources from Amazon, Google and Microsoft clouds they don’t get to go into those data centers and configure the provider’s network. Amazon AWS, for example, creates a Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) to deliver networking as a service to its customers. Organizations using an AWS account then make all of their networking configuration settings through software.

Given the widespread adoption of Amazon AWS, it makes sense for SDN vendors to take these same constructs and apply them to the on-premises data center instead of inventing something completely different. Last year, Big Switch Networks took a significant step in bringing the concept of on-premises VPCs to reality.

With an on-premises VPC, an organization can manage both its cloud network resources and on-premises network resources under the same VPC construct. For a Big Switch customer, the solution drives all management of the on-premises VPC through their Multi-Cloud Director (MCD). The Big Switch solution acts as both a universal network operating system and a network orchestration engine so IT can programmatically provision the on-premises network resources. The data center, like the cloud data center, is also free to use white box switches to lower acquisition costs.

Big Switch customers though, quickly realize they wanted the same management and orchestration capabilities that the enjoy on-premises in their Amazon’s VPC. The goal is to enable IT to automate and manage cloud network resources and on-premises network resources with the same commands and interface.

Improving the Cloud VPC with SDN

In its latest release, Big Switch brings its advanced capabilities in managing and automating on-premises VPC to Amazon AWS with its Big Cloud Fabric Controller for AWS Public Cloud (BCF for AWS). The solution enables IT organizations to have full visibility and control of AWS VPC including discovery, visualization and troubleshooting VPCs across multiple user accounts. The key advantage for a Big Switch for AWS customer is they now can gain better control over shadow IT.

BCF for AWS uses the Elastic Stack (Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Kibana) to build an analytics and visualization capability. While AWS VPC flow logs provide an unprecedented amount of raw data, most IT professionals drown in the details. Using the Elastic Stack, BCF for AWS can provide insight into the impact of security group rules, network access control list verification, routing tables between instances and network throughput per instance’s network interface.

Solving the Hybrid Problem

While having similar constructs is good, the challenge is the need to manage separately on-premises and cloud VPCs. Once an application is migrated to the cloud, IT needs to configure its network resources from the cloud using a different set of commands.

Having both data centers’ VPCs automated and managed with the same software helps operationally but managing across on-premises and cloud-based VPCs from a single pane of glass requires something more. To solve this problem Big Switch has introduced a new technology called a Global VPC (G-VPC) which enables multi-tenant Networking-as-a-Service across an organization’s hybrid cloud.

In addition, Big Switch announces a new cloud-based service version of its multi-cloud director. With Multi-Cloud Director, Cloud Service (MCD-CS), Big Switch can provide IT organizations with hybrid cloud intelligence, including optimal capacity planning, design, best practices and automatic security alerts.

StorageSwiss Take

Unless an organization has tools that enable them to manage resources across clouds, they don’t have a hybrid cloud, they have multiple cloud silos. The ability to consolidate network concepts, network management, as well as automation and orchestration into a single solution that spans both on-premises and public cloud network resources, is a significant step in creating a truly seamless hybrid cloud.

The Big Switch solution is worth careful consideration for organizations looking to integrate their on-premises and public cloud network operations. It also makes sense for organizations that don’t have a large cloud investment today, to start with the on-premises VPC concept so that later when they move to the cloud, that workflow is seamless.

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Twelve years ago George Crump founded Storage Switzerland with one simple goal; to educate IT professionals about all aspects of data center storage. He is the primary contributor to Storage Switzerland and is a heavily sought after public speaker. With over 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS and SAN, Virtualization, Cloud and Enterprise Flash. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland he was CTO at one of the nation's largest storage integrators where he was in charge of technology testing, integration and product selection.

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