Saturday, 23rd January 2021

Strengthening borderless networks

Five ways cloud-managed DDI can help. By Malcolm Murphy, Technical Director, EMEA at Infoblox.

As the traditional notion of enterprise borders continues to disappear, it is critical organisations have easy and secure access to the global systems and data they need for day-to-day operations. But today, keeping the lights on isn’t enough, and forward-looking organisations are moving to the cloud and investing in technologies such as SD-WAN, SaaS, IPv6 and IoT to improve processes and optimise performance.

The rise in demand for direct-to-cloud access at the edge has created the need for a more de-centralised networking model, one that protects both the hub and spoke environments. For example, not only does a retail chain need to keep its HQ (the hub) online, but every single store (the spokes) need to be connected to HQ, and each other, in order to process transactions and manage real-time inventory, amongst many other things.

The need to extend IT infrastructure across multi and hybrid cloud environments, and all the bells and whistles that come with it, brings a multitude of challenges that will drain a lot of time and resources from the average IT team. What organisations now need is a more simplistic and reliable way to manage their network, devices, apps and services across all environments and in any location.

That begs the question, how can organisations solve networking challenges at the edge, whilst resources are stretched thin, without compromising on the end result?

Cloud-managed DDI (DNS, DHCP and IPAM [IP Address Management]) allows organisations to build a unified solution to facilitate all communications via an IP-based network. By shifting the management of DDI to the cloud, organisations can manage their borderless enterprise centrally in one location, making it far more secure and reliable than traditional on-premise DDI solutions. By optimising network access and performance across all locations, cloud-managed DDI if fast becoming the backbone of digital transformation.

So, how do you convince stakeholders that cloud-managed DDI is worth the investment?

Here are five ways that cloud managed DDI can address a number of key challenges for borderless networks:

1. Cost efficiencies through flexibility

Not all branches or remote-sites in an organisation will need enterprise-grade DDI services. Some may already use a DNS that ticks all the boxes in each location, but is instead looking for DHCP or IP address management services for some of its smaller offices. In the same vein, some may want to grow DDI capabilities in some locations and not others.

Flexibility is key here. Organisations currently going through digital transformation, being able to roll out DDI slowly will enable them to upgrade DHCP whilst keeping current IP address management solutions with very little disruptions. Cloud-managed DDI prevents organisations from overinvesting where there is no need, for example in offices or branches where the technology may go unused, as it offers the flexibility to implement the best fit DDI for each location.

2. Removing latency

Many businesses depend on important real-time information, whether it be from manufacturing facilities, supply chain networks or remote offices. In addition, when we think about how much of the world’s businesses depend on IoT technology, it’s easy to imagine the negative impacts that latency can have. Yet, this is what can happen when organisations backhaul DNS and DHCP through an HQ’s data centre.

Beyond latency, if a data centre goes down for any reason, the link to the HQ is cut and no information from the edge will reach the central unit for DNS and DHSCP resolution, causing them to go offline. This is why local DDI maintenance is critical to ensuring always-on networking across all environments.

3. Reliable application access

With businesses increasingly prioritising the expansion of their global footprints and the number of remote-workers skyrocketing in the past few months, being able to reliably access critical applications from the network edge has never been more important. To do so, organisations need to shift away from MPLS architectures to avoid backhauling traffic through the data centre and compromising on speed for end-users on the network edge.

When it comes to moving towards cloud applications like Microsoft Office 365, a new kind of infrastructure is needed to ensure DDI services can be delivered centrally via the cloud and that remote location traffic can connect with closest local PoPs in the cloud, minimising backlog.

4. Scaling on the edge

Cloud-native organisations do exist. They were born in the cloud and don’t have to deal with the idea of a centralised data centre because their applications and services are managed and delivered 100% in the cloud. But whilst they themselves are cloud-native, it can be hard to find a cloud solution for managing remote offices and locations. To this day, DDI services like DHCP are often managed on-site through hardware routers, and a large organisation could have thousands set up globally. Commonly, on-premise solutions are hard to scale, take up a lot of resources and provide no easy way to manage and monitor the various locations.

For cloud-native organisations, cloud-managed DDI eliminates resource-intensive on-premise solutions across different locations. Instead, lightweight devices or virtual applications can be set up across offices, creating a system that is centrally-managed in the cloud.

5. A central control system

Cloud-managed DDI brings together an organisations core network services - DNS and IPAM, on one platform in the cloud. Swapping out on-premise DNS and DHCP controllers, which are siloed in each location, with cloud-native technology allows organisations to accelerate their digital transformation. This means better performance across remote locations with higher reliability and faster access when it comes to cloud-based apps.

With an explosion of workflows on the edge, traditional networking won’t cut it. Growing organisations require flexible solutions that speed up workflows to meet the increased immediacy demanded by a globalised economy.

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