Application-Centric Networking for the Modern Enterprise Era

The modern enterprise has applications and services that are distributed across on-prem, multicloud and intelligent edge environments.

By 2025, 75% of the enterprise data will be created and processed at the edge. The enterprise application users are themselves becoming mobile with the hybrid work paradigm gaining ground.

These drastically shifting needs of applications and users are not addressable with traditional models of networking, including traditional SDN solutions. This leads to increased pressure on the NetOps and CloudOps teams. Without the ability to provision networking for applications at a granular level, and with limited means to drive policy in a dynamic environment, NetOps teams are losing their ability to maintain granular control of the network and respond to the dynamic needs of the applications.

Understanding the obstacles in the way

The Enterprise Line of Business (LoB)’s DevOps teams are required to keep their applications performant and reliable to enable a superior experience for their customers and employees. This makes the connectivity paradigm across applications and services as important as the applications themselves. However, the NetOps teams are often involved late in the application development cycle, causing networking to be an afterthought.

Our customers have told us that delays in deployments are often caused by these three IT connectivity challenges:

  1. Multi-dimensional connectivity: Complex workflows between DevOps, NetOps and SecOps teams are causing delays in provisioning granular connectivity between applications and services, often taking weeks to complete the network provisioning.
  2. Network agility: DevOps teams demand the same level of agility that they are used to in the compute and storage domains. Network automation often is not at the same level of maturity as compute and storage and falls short of meeting the expectations.
  3. Lack of visibility caused by silos: The Ops teams often work in silos, and their performance metrics and SLAs are independent of each other. This leads to complex and long troubleshooting times when application performance degrades.

Are we ready for a DevOps friendly, application-centric connectivity?

 By reconsidering connectivity from an application context, one can solve the above challenges and enable the DevOps teams to achieve their connectivity in a self-service fashion, under the overarching policy control of the NetOps and SecOps teams. With this approach, one can seamlessly integrate connectivity provisioning as an additional step in the CI/CD pipeline, enabling DevOps teams to imagine network as another cloud resource. This results in a simple, scalable, seamless and secure application-level connectivity across any environment—on-prem, edge or cloud.

This model also makes policy administration uniform across all facets of IT, thereby greatly simplifying the administration of policy and resulting in enhanced security.

Reimagining networks in the context of applications and integrating NetOps with DevOps and SecOps, results in significant benefits to the enterprise user, including the following:

  • Seamless auto-discovery across applications and infrastructure resources.
  • Single centralized management and policy control with clear mapping between business context and underlying network constructs.
  • The ability to make the network “follow the application” when services move across locations.
  • Elimination of silos between different Ops teams.
  • “Built-in” zero-trust security architecture owing to the ability to operate and connect at an individual microservice level, drastically reducing the attack-surface.
  • Simplification of networks owing to the clear separation of application-level connectivity and security policies at the overlay, thereby resulting in a highly simplified underlay

Join the early access program

At IBM, we are committed to helping our customers solve some of networking’s biggest challenges. Explore the hybrid cloud topic and join the waitlist to learn how we can work together.

Author's Bio

Murali Gandluru

VP, Product Strategy and GTM, Software Networking