Big Switch Beefs Up the Hybrid Cloud


By: R. Scott Raynovich

Hybrid cloud is all the rage these days. Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure boosted the popularity of public cloud services, but now there is growing interest in connecting combinations of public cloud, on-premises private cloud, and hybrid implementations.

One of the challenges for IT and network managers looking to connect multiple clouds, or hybrid clouds, is networking. Big Switch Networks, a long-term player in the software-defined networking (SDN) market, today announced a major push with new technology to connect hybrid clouds. This includes a version of its Big Cloud Fabric (BCF) for Amazon Web Services; the introduction of Global VPC (virtual private cloud), which enables customers to build networking instances in any public or private cloud; and a cloud-based version of its Multi-Cloud Director (MCD). Big Switch also says that it will work with Amazon Outposts, by helping manage Outposts' VPCs.

Big Switch says that by enabling more cloud-based instances of its networking fabric and visibility tools, it will give IT and networking managers control over applications and networking to the cloud, including visibility into applications and "shadow IT" operations, in which enterprise end users sign up directly for cloud-based services. This can be used to improve management and governance of networks being used for cloud services. The BCF for AWS will enable discovery, visualization, and troubleshooting of VPCs across multiple user accounts. The Big Switch’s E-VPC will enable multi-tenant Networking-as-a-Service across hybrid cloud. It can be deployed in data centers, edge clouds, and multiple public clouds. Big Switch says that enterprises will benefit from G-VPCs by creating networks across hybrid cloud, regardless of underlying network infrastructure.

Big Switch has also integrated Terraform, open-source cloud automation tool, to speed up deployment of VPCs and G-VPCs across hybrid cloud.

One way to look at the Big Switch approach is as an neutral, third-party extension of the AWS VPC model. VPCs enabled enterprises to build their own networks and applications in an AWS public cloud, while making them behave like a private cloud. The problem is that this can be limited outside of AWS. Big Switch enables customers to build a full networking fabric within AWS or extend that out with the concept of a Global VPC -- which can be built into any data center, public or private.

What Big Switch is really doing is introducing more sophisticated technology for multi-cloud networks. Existing tools such as AWS VPC and Microsoft Virtual WAN can set up basic, encrypted tunnels among clouds. Existing SDN tools, which looked to add policy-based networking with virtual local area networks (LANs), work great in the data center but struggle when connecting multiple clouds. Big Switch networking now offers more functionality for hybrid cloud including automation, visibility, applications policy, and monitoring. In short, it not only enables managers to more easily set up secure hybrid cloud networks, but it gives them the ability to see what's going on inside of them and control application flows.