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Acer America
Acer America Corp. is a computer manufacturer of business and consumer PCs, notebooks, ultrabooks, projectors, servers, and storage products.


333 West San Carlos Street
San Jose, California 95110
United States


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December 21, 2021 | Jon Bove

Creating Services Combining SD-WAN and ZTNA Capabilities

MSPs and MSSPs have an opportunity to get an edge over competitors by offering customers an integrated solution for reliable, secure connections for a work-from-anywhere world.

With many organizations now moving toward a work-from-anywhere (WFA) model, secure and reliable connectivity is a top priority. To maintain quality of experience (QoE) for users, access to applications and data must be unaffected by user location, whether in or out of the office. This requires finding ways to achieve reliability, flexibility, and scalability without hindering security and performance.

Two solutions that make it possible for organizations to achieve both reliable and secure connections from anywhere are SD-WAN and zero trust network access (ZTNA). Coupled with centralized management capabilities offering visibility into the entire network and security stack, the proactive WAN remediation techniques for self-healing and ZTNA protection of the entire digital attack surface help IT teams experience a significant reduction in support tickets.

For managed service providers (MSPs) and managed security service providers (MSSPs), there is a major opportunity here to build services that offer both SD-WAN and ZTNA capabilities to ensure delivery of superior QoE for customers, their employees, and their IT teams.

Where SD-WAN Fits

With the WFA model, users frequently access business-critical resources from different locations, and each resource or application may be deployed in a separate cloud environment. Effective SD-WAN solutions enable organizations to connect branch offices and remote workers to multiple cloud environments.

Reliable access to cloud-based resources requires an accelerated cloud on-ramp and broad application support. Features such as dynamic failover, SLA-based application steering, and application availability are vital parts of any SD-WAN solution. Ideally, enterprise-grade security should be part of the package as well, instead of an after-the-fact add-on, but not all SD-WAN vendors provide this.

Demand for SD-WAN will only increase, and many organizations will seek MSPs to supply it to avoid the capital expenditure burden. In addition to offering the solution itself, managed SD-WAN providers should also offer expertise obtained through ongoing investment in the latest technologies and detailed knowledge of how SD-WAN solutions integrate with other vendors’ solutions, particularly cloud infrastructure providers.

Adding in ZTNA

Users access applications from both inside and outside the corporate network and from a multitude of different devices that are often on largely undersecured home networks. This has resulted in a vastly increased threat landscape across WFA models, requiring a stronger approach to security that is underpinned by the implementation of ZTNA. 

ZTNA assumes that every user or device in every instance of an attempt to access resources over the network is potentially compromised. Access is granted only to individual applications and workflows on a per-session basis after verification – where a user is working from becomes irrelevant. The same security approach applies regardless, protecting access to business-critical applications across hybrid worker and network models.

The ZTNA authentication process happens automatically and invisibly each time an application is accessed. The process may include simple password authentication in addition to contextual information such as user role, device type, device compliance, location, time, and method of connection.

Not every ZTNA solution is created equally, however. Some may only support limited types of applications, while others may only offer partial solutions. With this in mind, when helping their customers choose a solution, MSPs and MSSPs must look for one that features a client, a proxy, authentication, and security – all of which can work together to maintain visibility and control.

Solution Integration and Automation

Future-proofing requires solutions to be flexible and adaptable as both technology and business needs evolve. A solution that works today is great, but if it needs to be thrown out for an entirely new solution tomorrow, it’s not worth the investment. To remain competitive, solution providers must support various use cases, including cloud-to-cloud and cloud-to-data center connections, throughout a business’s transformation efforts and during its future change and evolution.

Poor network visibility, lack of analytics, and manual task performance increase the amount of time and money an organization must invest in its network while also boosting the likelihood of error and network outages and reducing flexibility. Moreover, it makes adapting to change cumbersome and increasingly difficult to manage.

Organizations need insight into their networks, the ability to enforce consistent policy across all WFA users, extensive ecosystem integrations, and proactive WAN remediation. Deploying automation everywhere to the entire lifecycle of design, build, deployment, and operation at a large scale allows IT teams to prevent network outages, remove human error, and avoid security breaches.

A robust SD-WAN solution automates the delivery of network services across the entire lifecycle at a large scale. What’s more, an SD-WAN solution that includes access proxy for ZTNA support also improves integration and streamlining capabilities, making it much easier for organizations to maintain adaptability into the future, all while protecting the entire digital attack surface.

Keeping Pace with Modern Digital Trends

WFA solutions must be both effective and IT-friendly. They must support connecting from anywhere in a way that doesn’t impact QoE and provides centralized visibility and control for the IT team while optimizing security.

Complexity and device sprawl are the enemy of IT. Organizations are looking for solutions that allow them to simplify and streamline their network connectivity and security. SD-WAN makes it possible to simplify architecture and management and accelerate deployment, while ZTNA simplifies secure connectivity by providing seamless, per-use access to applications – no matter where the user or application may be located.

Service providers that offer solutions combining both SD-WAN and ZTNA as an integrated package will have an edge over competitors in the current marketplace. The ability to flexibly deploy and manage both solutions with a single pane of glass while leveraging automation is key to enabling a future-proof secure and reliable WFA model.

JON BOVE is vice president of channel sales for Fortinet.

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