IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Hybrid IT Requires the Convergence of Security and Networking

The new security-driven networking model protects businesses anywhere on any edge—on premises, in the cloud, or both—and opens up new opportunities for MSPs. By Jon Bove

The mass shift to remote work due to the coronavirus pandemic has expanded the network perimeter to the extent that it’s almost unrecognizable. Remote workers are accessing both private and public clouds for the applications and services they need to do their jobs. However, it’s also clear that on-premises data centers aren’t going away. Today, there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to compute models. It’s now standard operating procedure to use hybrid environments, software-defined networking, and distributed computing.

Security must therefore adapt to the changing network demands and configurations, but many traditional security solutions cannot manage this change. In this environment, security has to be delivered anywhere from any place, at any time, and for any device.

This necessitates the convergence of traditional and cloud-based security, as well as deep integration between security and fundamental networking elements, to achieve business outcomes and deliver enhanced end-user experiences. This new model can be thought of as security-driven networking. This convergence presents significant opportunity for MSP partners to provide additional levels of protection and access control that organizations and users require.

The Benefits of Convergence

Organizations need the ability to select and deploy the security offerings that are best suited to their unique network environments and business requirements. The convergence of infrastructure and security has emerged as one of the most important concepts for today’s networking and security teams. The security-driven networking model allows you to put security anywhere on any edge, whether it be on premises, in the cloud and across clouds, or a hybrid of both.

With this model, you can scale and change the network without sacrificing security; you create a tight integration between an organization’s network infrastructure, cloud deployments, and security architecture as a single fabric. This next-generation approach is essential for effectively defending today’s highly dynamic environments – not only by providing consistent enforcement across flexible perimeters but also by weaving security deep into the network itself.

When networking is driven by security, you incorporate the entire network development and deployment life cycle, ensuring that security functions as the central consideration for all business-driven infrastructure decisions.

Partners Must Embrace Security-Driven Networking

The converged security networking model enables you to expand your business and offer existing customers more. Security-driven networking is a tangible way for you to demonstrate to customers they have an answer to the challenges they faced this year and what they face going forward, which is hybrid IT. All organizations have hybrid IT challenges now. The pandemic and the rise of remote work have made this clear.

The converged approach has three elements to recommend it:

1. Hybrid infrastructure. Today, not many companies are just cloud-based or only operating from their own data center; instead, they have hybrid IT. Even if your customer is a very cloud-focused company, they still have endpoints, especially with remote work today, and those endpoints are the network. Your customers need to invest in solutions that allow them the flexibility to make decisions as needed over time. MSPs are wrestling with these things internally, but you can also provide your customers better offerings by incorporating this kind of convergence.

2. Flexibility. You can’t predict when the next big shift will happen, and you need to build flexibility into your infrastructure so you’re able to adapt.

3. Performance. Customers expect quick and effective solutions, which means security needs to match the speed of the network. And that’s regardless of how factors like remote work and 5G affect it; customers want, and should receive, the speed they need.

To help your customers keep up with network changes, increased complexity, and rising security threats, now is the time to embrace the convergence of security and networking.

JON BOVE is vice president of channel sales at Fortinet.

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