What Is Cloud Networking or Cloud-Based Networking?

Cloud networking, or cloud-based networking, is when some or all of an organization’s networking resources are hosted in the cloud. This may refer to either a public cloud or private cloud.

The technology is based on cloud computing, which is the centralization of computing resources that are shared between users.

Influence of Internet Access on Networking Management

Improved internet access and more reliable WAN bandwidth have made it easier to push more networking management functions into the cloud. This has been one of the drivers of cloud computing services as well as enterprise cloud software. This, in turn, has spurred demand for cloud networking as well, as customers look for easier ways to access and build networks using cloud-based services.

This diagram shows the disaggregation of resources from the user and how they connect to form the cloud. Source: Cisco

A standard product provides centralized management, visibility, and control of the network. This could include the management of distributed wireless access routers or branch-office devices using centralized management in the cloud. The goal is to create and manage secure private networks by using WAN connections and a centralized management function that can reside in a cloud service provider’s data center. Connectivity, security, management, and control are pushed to the cloud and delivered as a service.

Cloud and Software-Defined WAN

This technology is driven by SDN technology, in which groups of networking switches and access devices can be virtualized and turned from proprietary hardware to software running on a white-box. The switches and access devices can then be deployed over a wide area as shared, virtualized resources in an SD-WAN or cloud WAN.

The basic concept, in which fewer management devices are installed in the branch offices or client premises and more routing and management functions are pushed to the cloud, is now being pursued resulting in a wider range of networking products, which include branch office routers, WAN optimization software, and firewalls.

The use of this kind of networking to manage and deploy network functions across the WAN is similar to SD-WAN. The trend is broadening, as a wider array of functions can be deployed using the cloud. The main goal is to free up services from being attached to specific hardware so that services can be deployed more quickly using software over a networking connection.

Cloud Networking: Key Takeaways

Cloud networking is the use of the cloud to manage and direct traffic traversing a wide area network (WAN). It is based on cloud computing where centralized compute resources are shared among users. With this technology connectivity, security, management, and control all are cloud-based and are offered as services.

Updated November 2020 by Connor Craven

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