The abundance of cloud-based offerings for enterprises has grown steadily in recent years, and a multitude of new business models and deployment models have emerged. Public and private cloud offerings exist in parallel, and between them is a spectrum of hybrid systems. Along with data storage in the cloud and on-demand software as a service, it is now possible to provide entire infrastructures as a service.
However, the worldwide growing acceptance of the cloud raises new questions: Which cloud services or applications are appropriate for any particular company, which deployment model is the right one?
Cloud-based Network Management
Network management from the cloud is a comparatively recent trend in the global cloud mix. This makes it all the more important to understand some particular aspects. Unlike with conventional cloud storage systems, where external data-center capacities are purchased for data storage, cloud-based network management solutions have to actively work with the data in the cloud.
Consequently, the issues of encryption, security, trust and data protection are extremely important. For a simple reason: service delivery by cloud-based network management requires knowledge of the master key to the enterprise network. What’s more: cloud-based network management involves the processing of confidential, personal and unambiguously identifiable data (e.g. MAC addresses) at one or more cloud data centers. This makes the location and the governing law of the cloud provider a key compliance element.
(Also of interest in this context are the latest developments concerning the Privacy Shield Agreement with the USA and the impact of the EU-wide General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) from May 2018.)
A Strategic Choice
In addition to compliance issues and the trustworthiness of the cloud provider, who plays a key role in cloud-based network management, the choice of the cloud model depends on a number of other factors.
Of particular importance are the orientation/strategy of the company, and the budget. A further important aspect when selecting a cloud service is the question of the capacities that are available in-house, as well as the general acceptance of these modern technologies within the company.
Generally speaking, there are two basic concepts of the cloud, which are reflected in cloud-based network management: The public cloud, which is provided by a public data center, and the Private cloud—also referred to as self-hosted or on premise—that can be operated at a company’s own data center.
The name says it all: In the case of the public cloud, the network management software runs on servers at a public data center. The costs that arise are usage-based and depend on the number of managed devices. There are no costs for setup and maintenance. This variant is suitable for everyone, it is easily accessible and quickly implemented because it does not require any new installations of server hardware or software at the company. All you need is access to the cloud over the Internet. Extensive training by specially trained personnel is not required.
What’s more, no updates to the cloud software are necessary as this always takes place automatically. This makes the public cloud particularly attractive for small and medium-sized enterprises without their own IT department.
However, before handing over one’s network management to a service hosted in a public cloud, one should carefully examine the trustworthiness of the offering as well the security and legal frameworks. Without sufficient protection, the worst-case scenario would be third parties reading-out the network keys and breaking into internal networks, or compromising them in some other way.
If a company decides to manage its network via a public cloud, the following aspects take on particular importance: Where is the cloud hosted? What law is the provider subject to? What security and failsafe concepts do they offer?
The public cloud service offered by the LANCOM Management Cloud is deliberately based at a data center in Germany, making it subject to the very strict German data-protection law. The effectiveness of the numerous security elements and the encryption have been checked by our own security officers and test procedures, as well as by an external, BSI-accredited test laboratory by means of security audits and pen tests (BSI – German Federal Office for Information Security).
With this variant, a company installs and operates its own instance of the cloud management software at its own data center. It is up to the customer or operator to determine whether this cloud is at all accessible from the public Internet, and whether several customers/clients can be operated in parallel on a single instance.
Another aspect is that the costs are organized differently: While the public cloud model incurs licensing fees but no costs for server hardware, hosting, bandwidth capacities, installation, or software updates, a private cloud solution incurs additional costs for the commissioning, configuration and maintenance. On the plus side, the operator has full control over the entire system.
Owing to the complexity and costs, a private cloud is best suited for large companies with high IT-security requirements, and also for public-sector customers. At LANCOM, the private cloud deployment is exclusively available through certified partners.
The Best of Both Worlds
Further, our cloud-based network management solution – the LANCOM Management Cloud (LMC) – has been developed explicitly with system vendors in mind, so that they can play an important role in providing not only the public cloud version, but private cloud offerings as well. This allows companies that are interested in keeping initial investments low to purchase their networks as a full service – rented devices with full management, maintenance and support – from their system house of trust.
When it comes down to it, companies deciding on a particular solution and operating model are best advised to discuss the options with their system house or integrator. Not only are they familiar with their customers and their needs; they are also well informed about the offerings on the market and are optimally positioned to provide the best available solution.
An Option, Not a Must
Be it public, private or hosted at the system house – LANCOM offers complete freedom of choice as regards the deployment model of our cloud-based network management solution.
However, our freedom of choice goes even further. Unlike other cloud-based solutions, the LMC has been deliberately designed to be an option. Customers who do not wish to move their network management into the cloud are able to continue using the tried and trusted methods of traditional network management – using the same hardware.
More, cloud-based network management is an additive option whichever way you go. The existing management tools including LANconfig, LANmonitor, WLANmonitor or WEBconfig – plus managing access points via a WLAN controller – as well as the large number of standard management protocols such as SNMP, HTTPS, TELNET, TFTF, scripting, etc., remain available unchanged. There are no “cloud-only” devices from LANCOM that cannot be operated without a cloud license.
In terms of its function, the LMC is the world’s first hyper-integrated network-management cloud, which makes it a true quantum leap: It provides end-to-end management capabilities across all network components. From routers to VPN gateways, switches and WLAN access points, they all integrate into the Cloud at the click of a mouse to be managed by state-of-the-art SDN-based, automated network configuration (“SmartConfig”). All functions, be it the configuration, management, or even just monitoring, are easy to use from any location via laptop, tablet or smartphone. And that’s just for starters!
Businesses benefit from dramatic time and cost savings: Where configurations formerly involved complex, error-prone tasks and days of work, all you need now are a few hours or even minutes. Adjustments to the network are effected by mouse click, problems are visible from anywhere. Complex security architectures are rolled out across networks and sites in a minimum of time – if required, even worldwide.
Customers are completely free to choose which of the models meets their individual requirements. They don’t have to decide for or against the cloud, just the right operating model.
See our website for more information about the LANCOM Management Cloud.