Networking solutions for a hybrid IT transition

By: Steve Currie


Enterprises are increasingly looking to a hybrid IT environment to extend their capabilities beyond traditional IT and incorporate cloud into their catalog of services. Integrating enterprise computing and cloud services affects all aspects of service management and infrastructure services, including the often overlooked network.

Businesses need solutions to manage the upheaval required to integrate an external service — especially in network segmentation and network security. Because enterprise IT has built network segmentation and security practices that are different from those adopted by cloud service providers, this process can be challenging.

Enterprises desire to maintain the communications they know their applications require while maintaining security and compliance. Cloud service providers, on the other hand, are focused on creating automated, standardized deployment methods and efficient use of limited network resources. Can you imagine defining the network an enterprise uses within a cloud service without changing the cloud provider infrastructure?

SDN empowers hybrid IT

Software-defined networking (SDN) provides an architecture to manage the control (network services) and forwarding (network infrastructure) planes of a network, making these programmable through a logically centralized point. Generally, there are two flavors of network virtualization — overlay networks and fabrics — and the two methods can be implemented independently or together. Overlay networks use tunneling to encapsulate communications into a protocol that the underlying infrastructure understands without directly changing the nature of the physical network, since programming the overlay virtual network doesn’t require configuration changes. Meanwhile, fabrics provide a programmable approach to building virtualized networks within the physical network infrastructure through programming network hardware.

The choice in a hybrid IT scenario depends on the constraints of the cloud service provider and the requirements of the enterprise network. Overlay virtual networks provide a greater separation between the virtualized and physical environments that may be better suited for most hybrid IT scenarios. The enterprise can design and deploy network segmentation and security through hypervisor-based SDN virtualization without the need to modify the network devices of the cloud provider.

Network virtualization provides a solution to integrating enterprise communications and the cloud, and the result is efficient, agile IT operations in a hybrid environment.

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About The Author

Steve Currie

Distinguished Engineer, IBM

Steve Currie, Distinguished Engineer, IBM Global Technology Services, has more than 25 years of experience in IT consulting. Currently, he is leading the qualification and adoption of software defined networking (SDN) technologies with IBM clients as a member of the GTS Technology Innovation and Automation team. Over his career, he has delivered leading edge IT... Read more