Cloud networking (and Cloud based networking) is a term describing the access of networking resources from a centralized third-party provider using Wide Area Networking (WAN) or Internet-based access technologies.
Cloud networking is related the concept of cloud computing, in which centralized computing resources are shared for customers or clients. In cloud networking, the network can be shared as well as the computing resources. It has spurred a trend of pushing more network management functions into the cloud, so that fewer customer devices are needed to manage the network.
Wireless LAN Leads the Charge
The Wireless LAN market was one of the first to start using a more distributed, cloud-based approach to building private networks using WAN and Wireless LAN connections. Companies including Aerohive Networks, Meraki, and Pareto Networks popularized the use of cloud networking techniques to create large, distributed Wireless LANs that could be centrally managed in the cloud. Meraki was acquired by Cisco and Pareto was acquired by Aerohive Networks.
Improved Internet access and more reliable WAN bandwidth has 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 to build networks using a cloud-based services.
A standard cloud networking 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 leveraging WAN connections and a centralized management function that can reside in a data center. Connectivity, security, management and control are pushed to the cloud and delivered as a service.
Cloud networking is a form of Software Defined Networking (SDN) technology, in which groups of networking switches and access devices can deployed over the wide area as shared, virtual resources. Other terms that describe this shift include Software-Defined WAN (SD-WAN) and Cloud WAN.
The basic concept of cloud networking, 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 for a wider range of networking products, which include branch office routers, WAN optimization software, and firewalls.
The use of cloud based networking to manage and deploy network functions across the WAN is also being described as Software Defined WAN (SD-WAN) or Cloud WAN. The trend is broadening, as a wider array of network 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.