Digital transformation is driving network edge requirements
A distributed enterprise's network is the digital frontline connecting them to suppliers, partners or consumers located anywhere on the planet. Unfortunately, managing such a wide range of connectivity points creates an increasingly complex network environment -- especially at the edge of the network. That's because each of these connectivity points can increase the risk of network issues or security threats.
However, the benefits of such extensive network access far outweigh the potential risks, for both enterprises and everyone in their ecosystem. These benefits include helping enterprises accelerate the speed of business by offering new options and choices for their partners and consumers. In turn, these additional options drive demand for even more devices, services and applications.
These are the typical circumstances enterprises are experiencing every day. Unfortunately, traditional enterprise networks have been too rigid to support these dynamic business requirements -- impeding adaptability and manageability while forcing trade-offs between crucial functions. These networks struggle to support modern demands, and are under growing risk of being overwhelmed by a continuing increase in demand for more functionality and access. There are several reasons for this.
The challenges posed by traditional networks
To start with, businesses and their customers are transforming the traditional analog approach of processing content and communications to a digital ecosystem. This puts tremendous pressure on IT infrastructure, where a convergence of IP networks now need to provide a number of demanding services together. This includes voice systems such as VoIP, electronic data communication, support for a wide array of IoT device types, security and other applications that require instantaneous access within distributed enterprises.
Deploying and managing all of these elements together makes it more difficult for enterprise network staff to provide easy access and acceptable performance levels to everyone who needs it. Likewise, network staff face greater challenges in improving and adapting security practices to address new and emerging threats.
Digital transformation is pushing enterprises to modernize their networks so they can address both current and future needs for performance, reliability and security. Enterprises can often achieve modernization by simplifying their networks to create a more adaptable and manageable environment. The key to their success is finding network technologies that don't force them to make trade-offs between performance, security or other functionality.
The strategic emergence of secure SD-WAN
One such technology is software-defined WAN, or SD-WAN. SD-WAN provides a balanced, flexible approach to networking that integrates key product elements designed to deliver performance, security and other functions without sacrificing one for the other. One example is utilizing SD-WAN for dedicated logical network segmentation that enables enterprises to implement and enforce security policies on a per-application basis without sacrificing application performance. For instance, network staff can set up SD-WAN for complete end-to-end segmentation on individual applications so any exposure to a security breach is limited to that particular application or segment.
Unlike traditional network and security systems that require additional expensive and proprietary systems to achieve layered security, SD-WAN enables enterprises to easily extend a multi-layered security approach across the network. And, with the ability to automate functionality, SD-WAN can extend data center-level capabilities all the way to the edge of the network without enterprises having to deploy expensive equipment or highly skilled IT professionals at remote locations.
To support digital transformation, SD-WAN delivers a new generation of capabilities that are simple, easy to maintain and secure while fitting within existing budgets. These capabilities include:
- Helping network staff quickly identify and respond to changing activity in regard to user and application demand.
- Increasing scalability to handle the continuous demand for new applications, services and IoT devices.
- Responding to changing demands or making updates at remote sites (even though those sites might lack IT staff).
- Automatically delivering defined functions from a central source based on a site's local user and application activity, security requirements and profiles.
The resulting business benefits of SD-WAN can be both immediate and extensive. For example, SD-WAN can integrate multi-device functionality in a single system, including necessities such as WiFi, wireless backup, next-generation firewall and intrusion detection and prevention -- without specialized hardware. Reducing network complexity and the number dedicated devices can streamline support and maintenance while speeding up deployment. Moreover, increasing efficiency can reduce overall capital and operating expenditures. Enterprises can deploy these devices within a virtualized SD-WAN environment to gain comprehensive network and device visibility that can reduce the cost of deployment, upgrades and ongoing support.
A flexible solution for complex business challenges
Instead of enterprises historically being forced into a quagmire of inflexible dedicated systems, SD-WAN can deliver multiple advantages within an agile software-defined networking strategy. This can be a cloud-based delivery model that provides all the modern network and security functionality required today, along with the ability to grow in functionality for tomorrow. SD-WAN offers a simplified, integrated and purpose-built approach that empowers enterprises to capitalize on today's digital transformation, while better managing both current and future issues and risks to deliver a captivating digital experience well into the future.
This article is sponsored by Cybera. To learn more about how Cybera redefines SD-WAN for remote sites visit them at Cybera.
— Dan Reis, SecurityNow Expert