Security shouldn’t be an afterthought and neither should networking

Computing is no longer just in private, public and hybrid clouds. It is more distributed than ever before and can be found at the enterprise edge, branch offices, connected platforms, and virtually anywhere data is used. This has led to an explosion in the number of network edges and more ways for threat actors to breach networks. Complexity, the need for consistent performance from anywhere, and the inability to keep up with the threat landscape overwhelm the internal capabilities of many organizations.

Author: Jonathan Nguyen-Duy, VP of field CISO, fortinet

This is where an MSSP’s expertise in networking, security, and the cloud, as well as access to scarce skills, the latest technology, and threat intelligence really comes in handy. In addition, the demand for MSSPs is growing due to the realization that networking, security, and computing must work together to deliver better user experiences and business outcomes.

Here are some considerations for MSSPs when developing the next generation of converged solutions.

SD-WAN is fundamental to networking

You can’t think about the cloud without thinking about how to access cloud resources. This is true Software Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) comes in. SD-WAN is the foundation for today’s network strategy because its intelligent routing over broadband, wireless and MPLS ensures optimal access. But it’s not just about access, it’s also about security.

The cloud, cloud adoption and digital transformation – the big story – represent the need for consistent network and security performance to deliver on the cloud’s promise. This is reflected in the macro trends around platform consolidation, cybersecurity mesh architectures and Secure Access Service Edge (SASE)Technology and strategies align with the need for networking and security convergence – what Fortinet called Security-driven Networking more than a decade ago.

Working in concert

Organizations and IT teams are beginning to realize that their challenges and threats do not exist in silos, and yet they operate in silos, with separate tools, procedures and internal organizations. The practical reality is that this is an unsustainable business model as the volume, variety and speed of data and threats increase. It’s easy to see why improving user experiences and business outcomes requires all three elements—cloud, security, and networking—to work together.

That’s why a cloud-first strategy means taking networks and security into account from the start. Security shouldn’t be an afterthought, and neither should networking. As networks become more distributed and span private, public clouds and the enterprise edge. It’s critical to think holistically about networking, security, and computing, rather than siled operational stacks.

Securing the Edge

In the future, the demand for faster data collection, analysis and use will push the computer ever closer to the edge of the enterprise – where it is needed. Edge computing is just the latest manifestation of more distributed computing across private clouds, public clouds, hybrid clouds, and now at the enterprise edge. The challenge now is to consistently connect and protect these computing nodes, regardless of location.

It’s important to note that the edge is just the latest iteration of computing — always moving between the dynamics of centralized and distributed computing. Most importantly, you understand that networks and security always adapt to the computer, wherever it is. In today’s environment, MSSPs need to find vendor partners who can provide solutions in a highly distributed and diverse network ecosystem.

You really can’t separate these elements from each other. Designing a digital infrastructure that spans LAN, WAN, data center, cloud, and the enterprise edge requires pre-consideration of the integration of networks, security, and computing power. This allows MSSPs to get the most out of vendor and platform consolidation. By following first principles to reduce complexity and consolidate where possible, especially from point products to platforms, MSSPs can reduce the challenges and costs of managing contracts, licenses, and staffing requirements from multiple vendors. Therefore, standardization across a few strategic supplier platforms is a very effective way to improve scalability and deliver better, more consistent results.

Success with cloud strategy

The success of your customers’ cloud strategy is not just about migrating the applications to a cloud or hybrid cloud. Ultimately, success is based on how well it delivers improved user experiences and better business outcomes. And what you see again is that networking, security and the computer all have to work together.

That’s what we see now when CISOs and CIOs talk about integration and convergence. They are talking about a single pane of glass and not a single glass of pain. Indeed, they outline the solutions that will be on the table for MSSPs. There is a demand from the market for a unified dashboard that provides a holistic view of what is happening in the field of networking, security and computing.

What it’s all about

For many organizations, the typical cloud strategy starts with adopting SaaS and is usually followed by migrating less critical applications. Ultimately, the result is often a hybrid of private and public clouds, as well as SaaS and edge computing. Combine this situation with the afterthought approach of adding security and networking solutions, and you can quickly see a level of complexity that simply overwhelms internal teams. Complexity, as well as access to the latest technology and scarce skills, are the main reasons organizations of all sizes look to MSSPs for some or all of their security requirements.

MSSPs addressing this challenge will require a platform-based approach that integrates networking and security to collaborate with computing — in private clouds, public clouds, at the enterprise edge, or a hybrid combination of public/private infrastructure, platform and software . The practical reality is that MSSPs cannot deliver such tightly integrated solutions with the legacy approach of using dozens of vendors, point products, custom automation, and manual workarounds. Remember that not only security cannot be an afterthought. It really takes SD-WAN and security thinking ahead of time to enable you to ensure the success of your customers’ cloud strategy.

Author Jonathan Nguyen is VP of field CISO at fortinet† Read more Fortinet blogs hereContributed regularly guest blogs are part of MSSP Alert’s sponsor program

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