Cloud DNS: Taming complexity in hybrid cloud environments

BY Ben Ball

A hybrid cloud model offers the best of all possible worlds for development teams.  It’s an embarrassment of riches:  using a mix of AWS, Azure, Google Cloud Platform, private cloud, and even on-prem systems let you use the best tools and technology for your specific requirements.

Yet what’s great for developers isn’t always what works for the rest of the enterprise.  Eventually, all of those applications which were born in a specific cloud will have to work in another environment.  They’ll need data from an on-prem server.  They’ll be deployed in a public cloud with different infrastructure and services.

As every networking team knows, this is when things get complicated.

The cloud DDI disconnect

Each public cloud has its own native service to handle DNS, DHCP, and IPAM (DDI).  AWS has Route 53 and Amazon DNS.  Azure has Azure DNS.  Google Cloud Platform has Google Cloud DNS.  Cloud teams tend to use these services by default – it’s just the closest DNS at hand.

The problem comes when a cloud application has to access data or services through the native DDI of multiple cloud environments.  When your hybrid cloud infrastructure is a patchwork, it usually falls to the network team to build and manage the conditional forwarders needed to bridge the gap between all these different environments.  At the scale of most large enterprises, that means a ton of conditional forwarding rules – rules which are constantly changing and require a lot of admin time to manage.

In the absence of a single system for DDI across hybrid environments, cloud and DevOps teams are constantly writing checks for the network team to cash.

With the speed of most cloud and DevOps teams, it isn’t easy to keep up with everything.  When complexity becomes too difficult to handle at scale, network functionality suffers.  Mission critical data and compute can’t be found by the applications that need it.  Application deployments take longer when conditional forwarders have to be constantly fine-tuned.  IP address conflicts bring down the network.

Ordinarily, you’d want to apply some kind of automation to sort out this mess.  The challenge is that none of the cloud-native DDI services support automation outside of their own environment.  And nobody wants to manage separate DDI automation engines for each of their clouds – that’s just more trouble than it’s worth.

Dealing with cloud complexity

How can network teams save themselves from the drudgery and complexity of managing conditional forwarders?

The first step is to unify DDI across the enterprise.  Getting all of your DDI data flowing through a single, purpose-built system will provide the common denominator needed to standardize across environments.  This is where you set the stage for managing conditional forwarders.

It’s important to note, however, that creating this single source of truth doesn’t necessarily mean getting rid of cloud DDI services altogether.  In many cases, an integration of your DDI system with the services available in the cloud is the most seamless option.  In others, the features of your standardized DDI solution will outweigh the benefits of integration with cloud DDI.  There is no single answer for everyone.

With the foundation of a standardized DDI infrastructure in place, you can finally apply some automation to the problem of conditional forwarders.  At BlueCat, this “intelligent networking” part of our Adaptive DNS solution finally gives network teams the control they need over the data and compute flowing through hybrid cloud environments.

The concept is simple.  When your cloud application goes looking for something, the DNS query it produces now has multiple resolution options.  Instead of managing a bunch of single-option DNS pathways which are constantly changing, you set up each DNS pathway for multiple resolution possibilities.  If the first DNS query comes back with an NXDOMAIN, the query will automatically re-route to the next priority location, attempting multiple pathways until it finds the right answer.

Managing these multiple resolution pathways across a hybrid cloud environment is much easier when you have them all in a single place.  When your DDI system supersedes the siloed services in each cloud or on-prem habitat, you get the enterprise-level visibility and control that is needed to operate hybrid cloud environments at scale, taking full advantage of the nimble DevOps and cloud development tools.

Getting ahead of the game

Most network teams never see this problem coming.  The cloud or DevOps teams won’t demand action on DDI-related performance problems and deployment delays until it’s happened to them a few times.  Some won’t see DDI as a potential solution at all - they'll see all those DNS servers, DNS records, and DNS domains as just part of the public cloud services or management tools that are supposed to come with the package.

That’s why BlueCat is spreading the word about how DDI solutions can make hybrid cloud work for everyone.  Our Adaptive DNS vision for your network gives you the power to thrive in a complex, hybrid cloud world – not get buried in the avalanche of conditional forwarders, disparate DNS services, and conflicting sources of information.

Learn more about BlueCat’s intelligent networking solutions and how we help our customers conquer conditional forwarding in a hybrid cloud computing environment.  (And check out our video on how intelligent networking works.)

 

Ben Ball

Ben Ball is the Director of Strategy and Content Marketing at BlueCat. Ben served for ten years as a Federal employee, with three tours as a Foreign Service Officer (Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan), and five years at the Department of Homeland Security, where he focused on immigration issues. A graduate of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and Pitzer College, Ben lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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