theNet by CLOUDFLARE

The Internet is the new corporate network

How the Internet became the corporate network

Cloud computing scales faster — and is often more cost-efficient — than traditional on-premise computing. That may be the simplest explanation for the large-scale cloud migration in recent decades, with 94% of enterprises switching (at least partially) to a cloud-based architecture.

On-premise infrastructure — the corporate network of the past — cannot provide the rapid scalability and flexibility offered by the cloud. Connecting central offices to branch offices through static methods (like MPLS) is both expensive and inefficient when serving the needs of a distributed workforce. At the same time, other complicating factors, like the proliferation of shadow IT, also impact an organization’s ability to control the entirety of their internally-managed networks.

As the pandemic hastened the trend toward a remote, perimeter-less architecture, organizations have become increasingly reliant on IaaS and PaaS cloud models. And SaaS applications, from chat to email, are crucial services to employees’ day-to-day operations, no matter where in the world they are working from.

When corporate apps and resources are in the cloud and accessed over the Internet, then the Internet essentially becomes the new corporate network. But that means this network is largely outside the control of the organizations that rely on it.



Key challenges with this new networking reality

Shifting from an on-premise infrastructure to a cloud-connected model affords organizations more flexibility than ever before — but it brings its own challenges as well. When the Internet becomes the corporate network, organizations face several key challenges: inconsistent network performance, security gaps, and DNS failure.

Inconsistent network performance

In the old model, solving network bottlenecks and adding capacity was often costly and complex. However, it was also within a business’s direct control.

When the Internet is the corporate network, other challenges arise. Network congestion, infrastructure failures, misconfigurations by ISPs, and other potential complications can all degrade network performance — bringing operations to a halt. And without clear visibility into network performance, it becomes difficult for an organization to predict when these slowdowns and outages are likely to occur (or enable them to get ahead of potential issues).

Security gaps

Traditional networking models, like VPNs, ensured that traffic remained encrypted between endpoints, but also presented headaches for the employees who used them. In addition to sluggish performance, VPNs were all-too-often compromised by external attackers or insider threats.

The Internet, by contrast, is an unsecured conglomeration of networks all over the world, with no central authority to enforce security policies. This puts the burden of security on individual organizations, who must adopt robust security solutions — including DDoS protection, network-level firewalls, Zero Trust access services, and more — to safeguard their endpoints and data.

DNS failure

To a surprising degree, Internet infrastructure depends on a few foundational services. One of those is DNS, which is responsible for connecting users to the websites and services they need.

DNS failures can have a significant impact on network performance and reliability. Take, for example, DNS provider Dyn, which was knocked offline following repeated DDoS attacks in 2016. The outage lasted for several hours, essentially cutting off Internet access for millions of users.

The scary part? Even DNS outages on much smaller scales can have a big effect on business productivity.



Overcome these challenges

The Internet grants organizations more freedom and flexibility than traditional on-premise infrastructure, but it was not constructed with enterprise security and performance in mind.

To solve for the challenges above, a new service model — network-as-a-service, or NaaS — enables organizations to set up their own networks entirely without hardware, while still ensuring peak security, performance, and reliability.

Network performance

NaaS allows organizations to proxy through a distributed network with private routes that scale on demand (unlike MPLS). By choosing a network that uses smart routing to supplement BGP routing, they can also circumvent network congestion, avoid outages, and improve operational efficiency.

Security

Zero Trust security is an updated security model that assumes threats are present everywhere — and continuously verifies every user, device, and request. Replacing VPNs with Zero Trust access helps organizations better avoid external attacks, malicious lateral movement, and data breaches.

Zero Trust security policies can inspect all requests to ensure they are encrypted, allow access to requested resources on an as-needed basis, and integrate with authentication providers to help prevent intrusion.

DNS

A reliable and fast DNS provider is an invaluable partner for modern businesses. DNS uptime is crucial to ensure continual network access for employees and users. And DNS performance matters as well, since milliseconds quickly add up to seconds, minutes, and hours of lost productivity when millions of requests are impacted in an outage.

The right DNS provider should offer an integrated approach to security and performance, one that includes multi-layered attack mitigation, global load balancing, DNS redundancy, and advanced DNS filtering policy creation, among other key technologies.


Meeting the demands of modern networks

Cloudflare is uniquely positioned to secure the corporate network that has the Internet at its core. With a global network spanning 320 cities in over 120 countries, Cloudflare can reach 95 of the world’s population within 50 milliseconds. Additionally, Cloudflare’s network connects with over 13,000 service providers, cloud providers, and enterprise networks, providing unparalleled performance and security for organizations around the globe.

Cloudflare Magic WAN is an enterprise NaaS solution that replaces legacy WAN architecture with this global network, so organizations can connect, secure, and control their networks from one simple user interface. Magic WAN also integrates with other Cloudflare services, including the fastest DNS on the market, to help enterprises solve these challenges and maintain network uptime — even when the "network" is the entire Internet.

This article is part of a series on the latest trends and topics impacting today’s technology decision-makers.



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Key takeaways

After reading this article you will be able to understand:

  • How the Internet became the corporate network

  • The challenges introduced by this reality

  • How to secure the Internet for your business



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