We envision a world where the connection is the network: cloud services, connected devices and endpoints, easily and securely connect to each other, any time, anywhere.
There are lots of resources that explain the basics of computer networking. Here is a quick recap of basic networking 101 concepts. If you are already familiar with the basics, jump ahead to learn why the networking 101 concepts you understand are no longer valid.
Computer networks enable communication between multiple devices. These devices could be your phone, laptop, a data center in your office, instances hosted in public or private clouds, or the IoT (Internet of Things) devices that all connect to a central location. The network will include infrastructure such as routers, switches, access points, and more which will relay the information between the communicating devices.
Geographic location defines a computer network as well. Here are common computer network types:
To share data on Internet, the data needs to be accessible via a public IP address and port. A browser request to www.google.com will be sent to a DNS (domain name server) which will translate the domain name into an IP address. Web traffic is port 80 by default. Your request will be sent to an IP address at port 80. Google will receive your request and return the webpage content you are looking for.
Since the inception of the Internet, this is how requests for information have been made. For a public-facing website such as Google, this is fine. But companies also had to utilize the same communication model for private data. Let's imagine an MIT research team needs access to a database at Harvard. Harvard would have to expose the database on a public IP address with the open 3306 port (assuming it’s a standard MySQL configuration).
Now anyone on the Internet can access that IP address and port and connect to the database. The database may have additional authentication to prevent access. This simple act of exposing the database on the Internet has increased the attack surface. Attackers can take advantage of existing CVEs (Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures).
You can share any resource such as a web application, database, or file server over the Internet without exposing the device to the Internet. The device doesn’t have a public IP address, and no port has to be open on the router or firewall.
But how can this be? Read our Advanced Networking for the Cloud Connected World whitepaper for a deeper technical discussion.