For decades extranets have connected enterprises to customers, vendors, and contractors. They have been built using traditional networking gear stretched to accommodate the unique security, networking, and deployment requirements of connecting between enterprise networking perimeters.
An extranet is a logical network zone meant to connect multiple parties under different admin domains across a range of physical connectivity – including the WAN.
With the ubiquity of subscription-based software, it was inevitable that extranets would also evolve to an ‘as-a-service’ model to simplify access to this critical technology and help businesses modernize the network without additional operational overhead.
Well, it’s no longer hypothetical, Extranet-as-a-service (EaaS) has arrived. EaaS enables SaaS application providers to achieve a cloud-like experience for their extranet.
The Challenges of Legacy Extranets
Consider the growth of an electronic medical records provider (EMR). The EMR provider connects from their cloud applications to clinics and hospitals using VPNs to integrate to on-premises systems. They use large NGFWs and connect to the clinic or hospitals NGFW. This works, technically. However, after years of growth, the EMR provider faces a massive operational challenge. The VPNs deployments are complex, configurations are fragile, and troubleshooting a dropped connection is a nightmare.
Setting up a new clinic is hours of work and can take weeks to start. Troubleshooting even common problems requires IT support from the hospital and must be in coordination with the provider. When it becomes frequent or persistent, the problem starts affecting customer retention, and support costs are out of control.
What this provider needs is a network that doesn’t require tedious infrastructure management, and, more importantly, delivers end-to-end observability for DevOps, support, and engineering teams.
Think of extranets as a WAN designed specifically to meet the requirements of connecting between organizations – such as application providers connecting to customers. For an application provider, extranets must deliver security equal to or better than the highest standard among the companies connected, availability better than the sum of the internet routes it is comprised of, observability and alerting to identify clearly where problems are occurring and why, deep integration to public clouds, simple one-touch deployment in the cloud, on hardware, and as virtual appliances
Unfortunately, delivering those requirements in an extranet infrastructure isn’t easy and requires talent, experience, and a massive investment of time and money. So, are we back to square one of this networking challenge? Not quite! Extranets, like similar networking technologies, are undergoing significant innovation with platforms like Trustgrid.
Trustgrid is advancing the concept of extranets by leveraging software-defined networking for connectivity between organizations, introducing additional features such as edge computing and ZTNA, and delivering it as a subscription-based network-as-a-service.
While customers and analysts have struggled with the pain of connecting SaaS to customer environments for years, Trustgrid’s solution brings a novel approach to the problem. While we call Trustgrid SD-WAN 2.0 due to its similarities to a software-defined WAN – analysts and customers have also referred to it as an extranet-as-a-service.
Trustgrid’s extranet-as-a-service platform enables SaaS applications to unlock the powers of cloud-to-edge environments. The Platform enables SaaS providers to attain a cloud-like experience from their application to the edge —whether applications are deployed in a public/private cloud, data center, branch office, or even as IoT systems. It delivers an SD-WAN-like user experience to connect the cloud with distributed edge environments and APIs.
The platform’s ZTNA features secure application access for remote support of systems. And edge computing capabilities run services across distributed nodes with tooling for container management, troubleshooting, remediation, and security.
A comprehensive cloud management portal and API-first architecture — through which DevOps teams can configure, monitor and support network functions as well as orchestrate applications running on the edge—powers the Trustgrid platform. Admins get a holistic view of their entire SaaS infrastructure, manage scripts and containers, push and track versions, and remotely troubleshoot deployed software components. The portal also secures edge APIs with network protection and enables the creation of new APIs from edge data sets.
With the Trustgrid platform, companies can build secure networks from their SaaS environment to any on-premises systems or 3rd party data source in as little as 15 minutes. In just a handful of clicks, cloud-to-edge, multi-org networks can be built that assure a cloud-like 99.99% uptime SLA while providing a 50% lower cost of connectivity and a 75% reduction in new site deployment times compared to legacy networking solutions.
Seamless Networking, Anytime, Anywhere!
Extranets powered by the Trustgrid platform benefit from hassle-free connectivity, automation, control, and security. With Trustgrid’s extranet-as-a-service offering, the SaaS providers can continue to drive innovation by implementing distributed technologies such as edge computing.
Utility providers, manufacturers, healthcare, banking, and retailers can continue to leverage software as a service despite their on-premises requirements. In fact, more than 1200 organizations are already using Trustgrid’s extranet-as-a-service with use cases spanning from Fintech SaaS applications to video surveillance systems to cloud-controlled medical equipment.
While extranets can take enterprise WAN from “possible, but at what cost?” to “difficult, but not impossible,” solutions like Trustgrid’s extranet-as-a-service assures that the network and edge elements of these infrastructures will be as easy to manage as the public cloud.
Request your free trial today to see how Trustgrid’s extranet-as-a-service platform can streamline the deployment, maintenance, and support of your customer-facing networks.