Our five-minute guide to cloud-managed networking

Learn why cloud-managed networking is growing in popularity with businesses

As cloud applications are adopted more frequently, due to both the benefits they offer and the needs of remote workers, cloud-managed networking is also growing in popularity as a way to manage an organisation’s networking infrastructure.

According to the Cloud Managed Networking Market Growth 2021 report, the global cloud-managed networking market is projected to reach $14.61 billion, up from $3.32 billion in 2019.

But what exactly is cloud-managed networking and how could it benefit your organisation in the increasingly digital business landscape?

What is cloud-managed networking?

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Instead of having to manage your business network on-site with network controllers or management software, cloud-managed networking, usually offered as a service, allows you to run your business network remotely through resources in the cloud.

With cloud-managed networking, you can manage multiple sites, users, and devices from a single point, enabling employees to work flexibly from any location. This is important not only now, during the pandemic, but also in the future as we see many businesses moving to hybrid working models where workers can choose where they want to work.

Cloud-managed networking uses a SaaS model to allow for full visibility and analysis into deployments and network health, with increased security and troubleshooting capabilities that save your IT team valuable time.

It includes switches, wireless access points, and security gateways accompanied by a hardware license, as opposed to other cloud services that a business usually licenses. Once a device is connected to the network, it can easily load the running configuration from the cloud. This also means that businesses can scale up, from a few key devices to a large deployment under a single platform.

Pros and cons of cloud-managed networks

Deployment is just one of the challenges resellers and customers face when implementing both wired and wireless networking equipment. Some form of set-up and configuration is normally required, and this takes time and adds to the cost every time a new device is needed.

Cloud networking makes deployments easier, with devices being provisioned with settings by the cloud provider prior to installation, making it quicker to install and set up. When the device is connected to a network, it securely connects back to a control centre and the configuration is downloaded and initiated automatically, making the device ready to use almost straight away.

It also removes the need for trained IT staff at remote locations, as deployments can be managed from one central location.

As well as this, it's also usually much easier and quicker to identify issues on a cloud-managed network. Unplanned downtime, limited resources and network performance issues can be a significant problem in day-to-day business operations, so being able to deal with disruptions efficiently from a centralised management platform is increasingly important.

As most cloud-managed networking solutions are offered on an as-a-service basis, with regular, predictable payments spread out over time rather than businesses paying a large upfront cost, maintenance and support is usually included as part of those payments and can offer long-term savings when compared to traditional networking deployments.

Security and access is a concern with any cloud tool, as a key benefit is that users can log in from anywhere. Any business looking to use a cloud-managed network provider must ensure that the service supports different levels of IT admin privileges and multi-factor authentication to ensure that only authorised users are able to log in.

There are also potential connectivity issues that can occur with having a system managed by an external provider. If this provider has an outage that affects your business, it can be much more difficult to resolve it swiftly and without disruption to core day-to-day business operations.

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