Virtual Cloud Network
What Is a Virtual Cloud Network (VCN)?
A virtual cloud network (VCN) refers to a system that has devices, virtual machines, servers, and data centers linked and controlled using wireless technology and software. With virtual cloud networking, an organization can expand their network as they see fit, without having to sacrifice efficiency and functionality.
A VCN is different than other common networks in both the technologies it uses and its scope. For example, a local-area network (LAN) is a type of network that is wired and therefore often confined to one building. Even though a LAN has wireless connections, the central components that get their signal from the internet are still localized within the physical structure of the building. Also, the devices and resources connected to the LAN typically need to either be wired directly to routers and switches or positioned relatively close to access points, so they can receive their signals. This limits the scope and flexibility of a LAN when compared to a virtual cloud network.
A wide-area network (WAN) has similar limitations, all stemming from the need for relative proximity to the various sources of data. A WAN, even though it can stretch farther than a typical LAN, still depends on servers housed within the physical space of an organization. Although the connections can stretch far across an organization’s campus, a typical WAN is still limited by its physically central architecture.
A VCN, on the other hand, is uninhibited by physical location. If an organization wants, it can arrange for all data provisioning to happen in the cloud. In this way, as long as the various computers, Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices, and endpoints have an internet connection, they can connect with the network. Further, the virtual network can be expanded by simply having the cloud provider provision more resources.
How Does Virtual Networking Work?
An environment that incorporates a virtual network works by connecting devices and virtual machines, regardless of where they are located, all with the use of software instead of physical wires. In a traditional setup, data is channeled over routers and switches. When a router gets a signal, it can then pass it on to the device or system that is asking for it. A switch can be used to send data to different areas of the network. However, these components are dependent on physical connections that allow data to reach them. Virtual networking performs the duties of routers and switches using software.
For computers to connect to a network, traditionally, they needed to use network interface cards (NICs) and adapters, which are physically connected to the network. With a virtual cloud network, these kinds of connections are performed using software instead of physical components. This is done using an application referred to by the term “virtual switch” or “vSwitch,” which directs and controls the communication that needs to occur between the parts of the network that are physical, such as computers and IoT devices, and elements of the network that are virtual, such as virtual machines.
Further, a virtual network adapter is used to enable computers and virtual machines to link to the network. This can also be used to enable an entire LAN to connect to another network far beyond the LAN’s physical borders.
In a traditional, physical network, you use a LAN to connect several devices to your resources. This may include elements such as network storage, routers, or a server. You would have to either use Ethernet connections or Wi-Fi to connect each device to the network.
However, with virtual networking, you can have a virtual LAN (VLAN) that facilitates all connections using software. Further, the way computers are grouped is also controlled by software. This opens the possibility for computers linked to different switches to operate as if they are all connected to the same one. Conversely, computers that are physically connected because they share the same cabling can still be put on different networks. You use the software to decide which computers connect to which networks instead of having to run cables from components to computers.
A virtualized network environment allows for centralized control and a simpler network management system. For example, if you need to update the computers on one area of the network, you can roll out the update without having to leave your office—or desk. You can also perform testing of security systems, software solutions, and products from any device connected to the network, regardless of where it is physically located.
What Are the Advantages of Using a Virtual Cloud Network (VCN)?
A VCN comes with several advantages that make it a more viable solution for a variety of organizations:
- The elimination of many physical connections and the cabling needed to facilitate them
- Cost savings resulting from more centralized control of your network. There is no need to deploy several people to solve disparate problems, perform tests, or deploy solutions. Everything can be done from a central location
- Greater flexibility when it comes to routing connections and configuring your network, enabling you to segment your network as you see fit
- More control over how traffic flows through your network, including the configuration of firewalls according to the needs of specific segments of the network
- A more productive IT staff that is able to deploy solutions, test them, and address issues remotely
- Easier scalability for the business because of the power to deploy upgrades and configurations virtually and automatically, as well as implement changes to applications and appliances that interface with the network
Virtual Cloud Network (VCN) and SD-WAN
Software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) is a pivotal part of the virtual cloud network, primarily because it is used to help control the various components of the network, as well as make adjustments to how resources are used. With SD-WAN, an organization can exercise precise control over its virtual cloud environment. In this digital age, SD-WAN is beneficial for organizations for several reasons:
- SD-WAN can be used to create a “smart” network that responds to changing demands.
- SD-WAN can create a more efficient network by ensuring you are getting the most out of your available resources.
- SD-WAN can save you money as you use it to optimize your current architecture, preventing costly expenditures associated with acquiring, installing, and maintaining new equipment.
How Fortinet Can Help
The Fortinet next-generation firewall (NGFW) virtual appliance gives you advanced, artificial intelligence-driven threat protection over your virtual cloud network using FortiGate-VM. With FortiGate-VM, you get the same level of protection and networking options you enjoy with the FortiOS 7.0 operating system. You can deploy this solution over private clouds, public clouds, and telco clouds, as well as hybrid and multi-cloud environments.
As a result, you get a scalable security system that is cloud-native and flexible. Because of FortiGate-VM’s high throughput, users that connect from remote locations can do so without time-consuming bottlenecks and without sacrificing security. FortiGate-VM provides users with an encrypted, high-speed connection.
The Fortinet NGFW virtual appliance’s flexibility is enhanced by its cloud-native operational architecture. This allows an organization to scale its development processes and production and testing environments without compromising security policies.