A federated network is a network model in which a number of separate networks or locations share resources (such as network services and gateways) via a central management framework that enforces consistent configuration and policies. Management, control, and data planes are distributed over multiple networks or locations and managed as a single entity.
This allows for streamlined operations, as an administrator can set policies for the entire federated network, rather than applying them to each network separately, creating a uniform environment across all sites.
A federated network also helps support simplified disaster recovery, with networking and security policies and compliance that are maintained during a network failover, or when a workload is migrated between different locations.
The terms federated network and distributed network have some overlap and are sometimes used interchangeably, but there is a key difference between them. A distributed network is simply any network that encompasses multiple geographical locations, whereas a federated network is one that allows multiple networks (which may be geographically distributed) to work together by employing technologies such as network federation. A true federated network uses a central management framework to enforce consistent policies and create a uniform environment so that the member networks can share services.
Federated multi-cloud, or cloud federation, refers to a unified, interoperable combination of cloud resources. If this sounds familiar, that’s because it is—it describes an environment where hybrid cloud (private and public cloud) or multi-cloud (multiple public clouds) work together as part of a single environment. A federation between these clouds additionally allows the multiple, geographically distributed environments and architectures to operate consistently and seamlessly.
- Streamlined operations: Administrators manage a federated network as a single entity and set policies for the entire federated network, rather than separately for each network. This allows organizations to easily achieve a uniform environment with less IT overhead.
- Visibility: Centralized management of data centers and cloud environments allows total visibility into those environments, without the gaps or problems that plague less streamlined architectures in which each component must be managed individually.
- Consistency: In a federated network, each member network operates as part of a unified whole, creating a consistent user experience and making the network easier to manage.
- Interoperability: A federated network allows seamless exchange of data and services across its member networks. This is particularly important in federated multi-cloud environments, where differences between public cloud providers would otherwise pose barriers to smooth interoperability.
- Security: Security policy management is prone to user error because of the inherent complexity of managing multiple networks or data centers. By managing those environments together as a single federated network, IT teams reduce the possibility of errors and improve their security posture.
A federated network provides the consistency, interoperability, and access controls needed to deploy and enforce networking and security policies across multiple networks. As business pressures demand app modernization and faster time to market, a lack of integration across data centers and cloud environments can create visibility gaps and configuration inefficiencies that make management of networking and security policies time-consuming and prone to errors. Federated networks support these business-critical initiatives by providing consistent and efficient policy deployment and enforcement across various administration domains or multiple sites within a single administration domain.
Federated data centers are multiple data centers that are presented as a single network environment using centralized management. In this architecture, data centers remain operationally independent and may even be placed in different physical locations, but can benefit from central management and shared resources and policies.