Saad Mirza, Senior Director of Solutions Architecture at Aviatrix, offers advice on how businesses can handle multi-cloud migration.

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No one in our line of work likes to hear the phrase “large-scale redesign,” but if you’re part of an enterprise that isn’t planning a multi-cloud network architecture, it’s a phrase you need to get used to. There is no way that any cloud, let alone an on-premise solution, can support the ongoing needs of any large competitive enterprise in this age of digital transformation.

Better to accept this now and start planning accordingly than to experience the inevitable chaos when your core melts trying to hold an aging topology together with patches. In this short post, we’ll cover the key design considerations you need to prioritize during this critical phase of your ongoing digital transformation.

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The good news is that—in addition to the inevitable long-term imperative—there are significant short-term benefits to migrating to a multi-cloud environment, including greatly improved scalability, security, and disaster avoidance and recovery. Plus, you’ll be able to write apps once and deploy them across multiple regions and across multiple clouds. Finally, committing to a multi-cloud architecture will allow you to avoid vendor lock-in.

How to think about a multi-cloud architecture

Foundation

As with any construction, the foundation is critical. In this case, your foundation is your transit network. You need to make sure it’s high performance and scalable enough, that you have built-in end-to-end network security, and that it provides multi-cloud support. Your network infrastructure should not block.

Consistency

Another thing to emphasize is consistency. Whatever you build in region one, you should be able to consistently deploy the same thing to region two or perhaps multi-cloud.

You’ll want to extend this consistency to an automation and orchestration engine that needs to be cloud agnostic. It quickly becomes unsustainably complex when you need to use a different automation and orchestration mechanism for each cloud in each region. You’re looking for a centralized automation and orchestration mechanism to ensure you can operate your applications and visualize your entire network with a single, cloud-agnostic approach.

Availability

Next, consider availability. Things like your control plane, data plane, and management plane need to be very accessible.

Business Continuity

Business continuity goes hand in hand with availability. We’re talking about your apps here. Applications must be resilient and must be available across multiple Availability Zones, multiple regions, and multiple clouds.

Security

One of the most common blockers I see is security. There is a tendency to make security an afterthought or to adopt an old, on-premises approach to security. It’s easy to overcomplicate your environment or drive up costs by bringing the old on-prem mentality to multi-cloud environments. Don’t offload everything to customer premises with chassis-based firewalls inspecting all traffic, which will only increase latency.

As with other elements of your multi-cloud network, aim for consistency with your security application. The best way to achieve this is to have security built into your network. The benefits are numerous, including operational visibility and a zero-trust architecture, while meeting all your compliance requirements and giving you not just encryption, but high-performance encryption. Also, when your users—your SREs—log in, you can create rule-based profiles for them, allowing them access to their own resources and nothing else.

Service Extension Frameworks

Finally, you should consider service extension frameworks. It is naive to believe that one supplier can fulfill all the requirements of an enterprise. It never is and never will be. Your network architecture should provide you with a framework for service extensibility so that you can easily insert your services without losing any performance.

How to ensure a successful multi-cloud transition

At the beginning of your multicloud transition, you may find the range of considerations daunting—especially if you find yourself responding to demands created by business decisions over which you have little control.

One way to avoid getting into an unwanted situation is to create a robust, cloud-agnostic approach to running your applications. First, start from the ground up with a transit network that delivers enterprise-class speed, stability and security. Then identify and deploy cloud-agnostic tools that give you high-availability, single-interface control panels that provide complete visibility across your entire network.

Finally, consider avoiding native CSP services. Instead, support an architecture that includes service extension frameworks.

Take these considerations into account when planning your multi-cloud network architecture. You will find that your journey to multi-cloud operations from Day 2 will be much less painful than you can imagine.

Saad Mirza is Senior Director Solutions Architecture at Aviatrix, a cloud networking company. More than 600 customers worldwide, including 63 of the Fortune 500, use Aviatrix and its multi-cloud network reference architecture to design, deploy and manage a repeatable network and security architecture that is consistent across every public cloud. Prior to Aviatrix, he held solution architect roles at organizations including VMWare, Cisco, Brocade and BT.

Key considerations for enterprises moving to multicloud

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