With each passing day, security breaches and attacks get more sophisticated and frequent. Due to the rise of cloud-based applications and IoT, the branch office is a point of critical security concern that can potentially open the entire enterprise to a host of outside vulnerabilities.
Securing a branch office is not easy and it doesn’t make sense to backhaul all branch traffic through a centrally deployed firewall in the data center. This would clearly result in latency issues to application performance that would impact both IT and end-user productivity.
Enterprise IT can either manage network security in-house or consume it as a fully managed security service. Regardless of in-house or outside management, there are various challenges to address when multiple security technologies are deployed as separate resources in the branch.
The typical branch has evolved to become the hub of major digital services for both business productivity and customer services. Businesses across industries leverage direct Internet access to facilitate their multi-cloud services and offer local guest network-based services, such as guest Wi-Fi. Branch offices are hubs of activity, especially in the banking, retail, financial services, and manufacturing industries. Because of this, the legacy branch office network is increasingly becoming an attractive target for cyber-criminals.
While disruptive technologies such as the cloud and IoT have broadened and diversified the attack surface, branch security architectures have not evolved at a similar pace. Juggling between users demanding faster and more effective ways to access business applications, and legacy WAN architectures that are unable to keep pace with real-time enterprise demands, IT teams are battling a broad set of challenges.
For example, the use of cloud-based services and IoT devices, in addition to SaaS (News - Alert) application adoption, have increased dependence on public Internet connectivity. Backhauling branch traffic to the corporate data center is counterproductive, and the latency impacts application performance. Additionally, different branch office locations, office sizes, and the types of applications users work with may require different connectivity types (e.g., purely Internet vs. MPLS vs. hybrid). The public Internet is proven not secure enough for mission-critical business applications. There can also be different security requirements, based on application, depending on where they are being accessed, and over what type of connectivity. This adds significant complexity when using traditional security appliances to create a standard branch security model.
In addition, the branch office network landscape is complex. There are diverse systems and platforms mixed with various technologies that, over time, have made their way into the landscape. Cloud and IoT have added yet another layer of complexity. Creating and implementing a branch office security strategy for disparate systems and multiple hardware devices is expensive and requires a lot of time and resources. Procuring, deploying and managing point devices for different layers of security at locations without IT/security expertise often results in very high Capex and Opex. Naturally, the more complex the system, the more difficult it becomes to monitor, update, manage, maintain and secure all possible loopholes.
Also, most branches currently use a range of connectivity solutions (MPLS, LTE (News - Alert), broadband), as well as an array of hardware and software components sitting atop this carrier layer. Due to this diversity, third-party network monitoring tools often struggle to provide a unified and coherent picture of networks in real time. As a result, most organizations discover a breach or an anomaly a considerable time after its onslaught.
Of course, timely detection and remedial action are critical to minimizing the impact of a security breach. Every minute lost gives attackers an advantage to strengthen their attack. Without a centralized management console for branch offices, IT teams cannot dynamically apply role-based access and enforce security policies and configurations per application, while centrally managing the security configurations around an organization’s applications and networks.
Modern branch networks of digital, cloud-migrating organizations need to be intelligent and built to deliver uninterrupted, secure connectivity to cloud applications for users. Superior application performance, reduced deployment times, and minimized cost and complexity of running the networks are some of the features that organizations should incorporate when building and equipping future-ready WANs for branch offices.
IT’s role is critical in quickly updating current branch offices and bringing new locations on board. SD-WAN’s centralized administration and console make it easy to turn up new services and new locations, while adjusting policies remotely for immediate results. All this without having to worry about the cost, resources, and logistics associated with setting up a new IT infrastructure at a remote location.
New cutting-edge technology is available and proven to improve service quality, realize affordability and enhance the user experience and productivity. The impact of network downtime or service disruption can result in significant financial and business losses. With so much at stake, branch offices have no tolerance for network failures.
One new approach to integrating security and networking in one solution, called secure access service edge (SASE), allows IT teams to proactively set up application transport policies and network routes to cope with traffic demands, instead of having to upgrade circuits and bandwidth. By leveraging low-cost broadband and making it more secure and enterprise-ready, SD-WAN, a capability of SASE, helps organizations address performance demands while delivering exceptional user and customer experience.
SASE and SD-WAN enable IT leaders to create a more robust, reliable, and trusted network infrastructure to operate efficiently and safely, and best serve users. By creating the perfect balance between security, manageability, network operational efficiency, and performance, IT leaders can help their organizations deliver affordable, world-class network security and performance to remote locations. SASE enables faster service delivery, improved application performance and easier branch and compliance management. The result is solving your branch WAN problems today, and preparing for the cloud and digital services of tomorrow.
About the author: Mike Wood is CMO of Versa Networks. He is an entrepreneurial, creative, results-oriented and hands-on CMO, VP Product, Board Member, Advisor, and Investor with repeated success scaling incubation businesses and startups. Mike has extensive expertise scaling products, businesses and processes to take a business from limited revenue to hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. In addition, Mike has deep expertise in networking as a service, virtualization, cloud, mobile, video and security.
Edited by Erik Linask