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Adam Stipkovits on Altitude: “Tackling Top Cloud Networking Challenges: Security, Costs, and the Skills Gap” 

Photo by Alex Kotliarskyi on Unsplash

The rapid pace of cloud adoption has left many IT teams struggling to keep up. As organizations move business-critical workloads to the cloud, the demands on network and security engineers have skyrocketed. Yet finding and developing the right cloud skills remains a major pain point.  


In this episode of Altitude, host Woody Woodworth is joined by Adam Stipkovits, Multicloud Network Architect at a global aluminum manufacturing company, to unpack key findings from Aviatrix’s 2024 Secure Cloud Networking Field Report. With over a decade of experience across AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud, Adam offers a valuable perspective on the real-world challenges facing cloud professionals today.  


Fragmented Visibility Hinders Troubleshooting 


A top barrier to cloud adoption highlighted in the report is lack of visibility across cloud environments. As Adam explains: 


“You need to know what happens in your network, right? If you’re a global company, you already have a fairly big network all over the globe, and then you have your data centers, you have your remote locations, and now you have your clouds as well. For many companies, it’s multiple clouds.” 


With traditional networking, data centers, SaaS applications, and multiple cloud platforms in use, gaining end-to-end visibility is incredibly difficult. The cloud providers’ native tools only offer visibility into their own environments. According to Adam: 


“It’s not necessarily always enough, but it’s enough to a specific extent. But when you look at the big picture, it’s not necessarily enough because you cannot see what’s happening outside of the cloud.” 


This fragmented visibility makes troubleshooting complex hybrid cloud architectures painfully slow and difficult. 


Suboptimal Architecture Drives Up Costs  


Another key finding from the 2024 Secure Cloud Networking Field Report showed that rising costs are another top barrier to cloud adoption. Inter-region and internet bandwidth usage are major cost drivers that need optimization. As Adam explains:  


“Let’s say you have an application that’s running somewhere in the US, but then some of its backend systems are running in Europe, and then you generate a lot of data across the regions by putting that data, connecting to those backend systems. Sometimes it just makes sense to deploy that in the same region.” 


Some cloud environments often have inefficient architectures that drive up costs, so rethinking traffic flows and consolidating infrastructure can help rein in and optimize costs. 


Human Error Causing Most Cloud Outages 


Surprisingly, the report found that 31% of cloud outages were caused by firewalls and 47% of outages were caused by human error, compared to just 15% from cyberattacks. Adam confirms: 


“I would say most of the issues are caused by human error…We have to acknowledge that the firewall is probably the most complex thing in the cloud network with regards to the different functionality. These next gen firewalls today do so much, that in many cases, the code can break.” 


As Adam explains, two of the key factors here are the lack of total understanding of the network and fragmented teams. The network team often lacks visibility into critical parts of the security policy that they need to troubleshoot issues. At the same time, security teams manage firewalls without insight into the surrounding network. This lack of coordination between teams means small misconfigurations can have a major impact on uptime.  Businesses can prevent outages through tighter integration between network, security, and cloud teams and upskilling the network teams to understand the network end-to-end.  


Cloud Networking Talent Shortage  


With 63% of respondents struggling to find cloud networking talent, there’s a huge skills gap to fill. The rapid technology change makes upskilling difficult. Adam emphasizes: 


“When you talk about the past couple of years, they should have learned, on top of what they already knew, the routing, switching, some firewalling. They should have also learned the CTNA technologies…the clouds, and then there’s multiple clouds. So, when you talk about that, it’s already a huge amount of knowledge that somebody should absorb in a relatively short amount of time.” 


As Adam notes, a good place for individuals looking to enter cloud networking to start is by deeply understanding general networking concepts. After that foundation is built, you can start adding to your cloud skillset. Continuous learning and expanding into areas like automation and Terraform are key for network engineers today.  


One of the ways that Adam elevated his cloud networking skills was through the Aviatrix Certified Engineer (ACE) Program. He is now an ACE Design Expert, which is the highest-level ACE certification. The journey to cloud still faces hurdles, but with the right skills, architecture, and visibility tools, teams can thrive.  


To hear all of Adam’s insights, check out the full episode here. 


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Aviatrix’s 2024 Secure Cloud Networking Field Report included over 400 cloud, networking, and security practitioners from around the world. Dive deeper into the findings today. 

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