Jul 29 2021

CDW Tech Talk: Releasing Bottlenecks in Your Infrastructure

Keeping up with the amount of data being created these days can be taxing for any organization’s network.

Digital transformation was already a common phrase being used by many organizations before the pandemic. However, when circumstances sent workforces into remote environments and required the use of multiple devices, digital transformation quickly turned from a general concept into some concrete steps required for survival.

Now that many organizations are transitioning from fully remote work to hybrid environments, adaptation has again become essential. Networks are expected to handle immense amounts of data being created in various locations, on multiple devices and at the edge, all of which must be collected and processed speedily to extract the most value.

Susan Bobholz, director of solution marketing for the Ethernet product group at Intel, joined CDW’s Tech Talk webcast and stated that 2.5 quintillion bytes of data per day are being produced. “It’s an amazing amount of data, all that data that’s out there. It has real value for customers and for end users because organizations want to look at this data and extract business value out of it, and they’re looking for how to make that happen,” she said.

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Collection, Storage and Processing of Data Present New Challenges

Bobholz said Intel is hearing some common concerns from its customers. “One of the things that they’re looking at is how to process all this data that's coming in. How do I store it in a more efficient manner?”

Increasing data storage is one common changes Intel’s customers are making. In the recent past, Bobholz said, “Everything was being stored on rotating media or hard drives, and that has kind of transitioned now over to persistent memory SSDs, nonvolatile memory. Then, how do I move it everywhere from the edge into the data center and back in a faster way, and how do I have software that kind of pulls it all together?”

As the need to move data everywhere increases, organizations are encountering some similar issues. Bobholz said that when companies have multiple apps contending for the same network bandwidth, “they’re looking for ways that they can meet service-level agreements that they have with their different organizations to ensure a certain level of performance, a certain level of functionality, going all the way through with all that bandwidth.”

“They’re also looking at how to deliver high-performance storage access, especially for the hottest data that they’re dealing with,” Bobholz said. “And then lastly, we’re seeing an evolving portfolio of different network tunneling protocols that are coming together. People are really looking for how to be flexible and basically come up with different frame processings that can adapt to all these new protocols that seem to be emerging constantly, while looking for ways to reduce the host CPU.”

WATCH: Learn how to improve your infrastructure and prevent data sprawl.

Faster Ethernet Is Being Deployed to Solve Bandwidth Issues

Gary Gumanow, Ethernet sales enablement manager at Intel, also joined the conversation to describe some of the ways Intel’s customers are addressing bandwidth issues with so much new data to manage. “We found that 100-gigabit is actually being more widely deployed than 10-gigabit today. We find this a lot in the cloud service providers.”

Small and medium-sized businesses generate a lot of data too, and they contend with the same bandwidth issues being faced by larger enterprises, Gumanow said. “So, we’re seeing a lot of 100-gigabit switch

“Along with that, it’s also important to track what’s going on on the server,” Gumanow noted. “Customers are moving to 25-gig, 50-gig and 100-gig as you move up that scale. Less ports are required in order to deliver the bandwidth that’s required, but you can see there’s a doubling of the bandwidth that’s being deployed in data centers in just this short period.”

Some Organizations Are Employing a Multicloud Strategy 

Sarah Kent, security assessment specialist at CDW, added to the conversation her experiences working with customers migrating into a multicloud environment. “We’ve seen a tremendous amount of growth over the past year especially, and a lot of customers have started out by using SaaS solutions. Now, they’re starting to move more of their infrastructure into the cloud, and everyone’s kind of figuring it out together.”

“For about the past 10-plus years, we’ve seen public cloud become viable thanks to the growth of virtualization containers and high-speed internet. These technologies have freed us from the headaches of capital investments in hardware, maintenance costs and wasted resources that allowed us to leverage economies of scale with unprecedented agility and minimal commitment while maximizing our uptime,” Kent explained.

She listed some trends CDW has observed as more organizations adopt a multicloud approach. “When we zero in on the advantages of multicloud, we see several trends. For instance, organizations can now cherry-pick best-of-breed services from each cloud provider. Second, we can better align with business partners to take advantage of the services they provide. Third, we can deliver services to far-flung regions of the world where one CSP may provide more access than others. Last, we can accommodate the needs of the business during a merger and acquisition.”

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Multicloud Environments Present Different Security Issues

While a multicloud strategy may offer certain advantages, it doesn’t come without new concerns. “New risks introduced may still be lurking, and our threat models continue to morph. As we consume more cloud services, we sense that the attack surface is broadening, but we’re less certain we know where our perimeter is.”

Kent listed some of the new security issues that might crop up with mutlicloud adoption. “For example, business-to-business trust relationships may lead to unexpected back doors. CSPs provide similar services, but each one has a different security policy and a different way of implementing these policies. IT staff don’t have the knowledge yet to secure all cloud provider platforms, and data encryption and backups are no longer centralized.”

“The bottom line is that the complexities of multicloud translate into more complexity with security,” Kent said.

For organizations considering adopting multiple CSPs, Kent offered some advice: “First, verify you have a legitimate business need to take on the complexities of multicloud. Second, I’d say, figure out if you have the in-house IT staff with the know-how to manage different environments. Third, I’d say pay attention to how you handle the identity, access management and default scale across all of your cloud providers.”

Cloud Security Posture Management Can Help 

With a broadening attack surface and multiple security policies across different providers, cloud security posture management can enable an organization to enforce a singular policy and gain more visibility.

CSPMs are tools that connect to your Infrastructure as a Service and Platform as a Service environments using application programming interfaces. All CSPs provide two primary features: One is that they give you visibility into your inventory of cloud assets. The second is that they have real checks that scan your environment’s configuration and generate compliance reports,” Kent explained.

Kent summarized the benefits of CSPMs by saying that a good CSPM will have a user-friendly interface that helps you quickly see how many assets you have in the cloud. “It offers ways to filter by asset type, tags, keywords and accounts, to name a few. Instead of having to look across multiple account portals with various cloud providers, you can see everything in one dashboard.”

Follow BizTech’s full coverage of the CDW Tech Talk series here. Insiders can register for the event series here.

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