Supercloud Simplicity Via Multi-Cloud Networking

By Lori MacVittie, F5 Distinguished Engineer.

  • 1 month ago Posted in

With hybrid IT the reality, and many organisations employing multiple public clouds for AI, security, and global reach, the need for a solution to simplify operations is urgent. Supercloud proposes to do just that. 

I’ve been talking here and there and over there, too, about supercloud for a couple of years now. The term itself is not popular. Most technology professionals are exhausted by the seemingly endless supply of buzzwords that thought leaders like to generate. 

This one is definitely a buzzword and it’s not actually a technology like eBPF or WASM. It’s a vision to simplify the complex ball of yarn that entangles organisations in endless webs of complexity thanks to differences between the tools and APIs required to deploy, operate, and monitor apps and APIs across multiple properties. 

So, it’s a good idea to start with a definition of supercloud. And, as this is my article, this is my definition:

“Supercloud is a cloud architecture that enables hybrid IT to seamlessly operate every layer of the IT stack across cloud providers, and on-premises traditional and cloud environments, and at the edge.”  

So, given that, how does one go about making this vision a reality? 

It’s always best to start at the beginning, and the beginning of the complexity inherent in operating as a hybrid organisation is at the bottom of the IT stack: infrastructure. 

That’s the connective tissue between the data centre and public cloud – the networking layers that make it possible for consumers to consume, clients to call, and packets to pass from one place to another. The solution proposed to simplify connectivity is often called multi-cloud networking or MCN in the market. 

Multi-cloud networking, at its core, simplifies connectivity by standardising the way networks are established and operate across all environments. It doesn’t matter if it’s public or private cloud, in the data centre or at the edge. Multi-cloud networking basically lays a network mesh across all properties that eliminates complexity by using the same constructs, the same configurations, and the same consoles to operate and monitor every location. 

But not every MCN solution offers the same capabilities, and thus it’s important to examine the solution for its ability to not only connect multiple properties, but to secure them as well. Without security, the solution only eliminates some of the complexity while leaving the challenge of applying consistent security across all applications unaddressed. 

Complexity introduced by the need to optimise application performance is just as important to address – since no one connects clouds just for the pleasure of connecting clouds. Organisations leverage multiple clouds to achieve global reach, or accelerate growth through rapid scale, or nowadays, to take advantage of AI services to gain a competitive advantage. 

Those uses ultimately mean applications and APIs – and applications need application services. These are security and delivery technologies that optimise, secure, and scale applications and APIs. They are a part of the connective tissue, often surfacing as proxy-based solutions that provide capabilities like identifying and stopping bots, defending against DDoS, and automatically adjusting delivery location to ensure the best user experience possible. 

These services, too, add to the complex ball of yarn that makes delivering digital services today an often frustrating – and costly – task. MCN that includes app services as part and parcel of the solution offers the same benefits of standardisation as that of the network – lower cost, similar tools, and a single console through which to manage them. 

All in all, the right MCN solution should address the top challenges that customers face when operating across multiple cloud and data centre properties: 

1. Applying consistent security to all applications and APIs 

2. Complexity and costs associated with multiple tools, APIs, and consoles 

3. Optimising the performance of applications 

For nearly ten years, our annual research has seen these same three issues top the list of multi-cloud challenges. Supercloud is the answer to these challenges and MCN is the solution to building the supercloud foundation. 

MCN should be designed to address these challenges and lay the foundation for a simpler solution to operating hybrid IT. 

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