How to connect & secure hybrid cloud networks with Azure
Trying to set up and secure a hybrid network for your organization? Here's how to go about it using Azure.
Jan 23, 2024 • 4 Minute Read
- IT Ops
In today's rapidly evolving tech landscape, hybrid cloud networks have become the backbone of many contemporary business systems. This blend of public and private cloud services not only paves the way for innovation but also introduces new security challenges, especially for data in transit.
Microsoft's Azure, being a frontrunner in this space, offers compelling solutions to address these hybrid cloud networking challenges. Let's get started!
The importance of connecting and securing networks
Before diving deep, it's crucial to grasp the "why." Why the need to connect and secure networks? This is a question not only for tech enthusiasts but also one your leadership might pose.
The primary motivation behind network connectivity is to facilitate access to resources both on-premises and in the cloud. This seamless connectivity fosters team collaboration. Additionally:
It reduces the administrative burden of juggling various network access solutions for different teams.
A hybrid network setup allows our resources to function cohesively, whether they're inside or outside public cloud spaces.
After setting up a hybrid network, the next logical step is safeguarding your resources. A robust defense-in-depth strategy is vital, and that's where Azure's VNets come into play.
Azure Virtual Network (VNet): The private cloud artist
Think of VNets as your private network, akin to your on-premises sites. If you're aiming to bridge these isolated VNet networks, VNet peering is your go-to. This mechanism offers connectivity between Azure VNets over Microsoft's secure and well-maintained backbone.
Once your VNets are set up and interconnected, it's time to consider your primary defense layer in network security: the dynamic Network Security Groups (NSGs).
NSGs fortify VNets and their linked resources by implementing security rules. These rules govern the traffic flow, both inbound and outbound. You can enforce these rules at either the subnet level or the vNIC level.
Securing hybrid networks
On top of NSGs, Azure Firewall can be employed to further secure VNet-linked resources. This native Network Virtual Appliance (NVA) solution is particularly beneficial for hub and spoke network architectures, whether they're solely in Azure, on-premises, or a mix of both.
Azure Firewall offers a managed firewall solution, routing traffic through a specific set of rules, encompassing NAT, Network, and Application rules. By default, any unauthorized access is denied, ensuring a high security level. Plus, Azure Firewall's scalability is a major advantage, irrespective of where your VNets reside within Azure.
Azure VPN Gateway & ExpressRoute: Bridging the gap
Now, let's discuss connecting on-premises networks to Azure VNets.
Firstly, VPN Gateways offer encrypted tunnels, linking Azure VNets and on-premises environments. This ensures hybrid network architectures while adhering to the IKEv2 encryption standard. Essentially, it's like a typical VPN solution, seamlessly integrated into Azure VNets.
For a more direct, physical connection, there's ExpressRoute. It facilitates private, high-bandwidth connections between your routers and Microsoft's, eliminating potential failure points by coupling it with existing IPsec tunneling.
Azure Private Link: Making public go private
Up to now, we've explored connectivity and security between on-premises setups and Azure. But what about accessing typically public resources like storage accounts privately?
Enter Private Link. By using its private endpoints, you can grant private network access to on-premises resources or within VNets, essentially making public PaaS services feel like private assets.
Monitoring and compliance tools: The security pulse
Understanding and connecting networks is half the battle. Monitoring them is equally critical. Azure's suite of monitoring and compliance tools are indispensable for a secure network environment.
A notable mention is Network Watcher, enabling network monitoring and connectivity troubleshooting. Tools like NSG flow logs, which capture traffic flows in a readable JSON format, enhance the audit capabilities of your security rules.
While hybrid cloud networks might initially seem like a challenging puzzle, Azure illuminates and secures your path. From VNet configurations to dedicated connections and advanced encryption to insightful monitoring tools, Azure stands as a robust shield for your data.
Keen on deepening your Azure Networking and security knowledge? Dive into the AZ-500: Secure Networking course. Happy networking!