The ROI of Doing Nothing: What to know as new demands are placed on networks

By Etay Maor, Chief Security Strategist, Cato Networks [ Join Cybersecurity Insiders ]

By Etay Maor, Chief Security Strategist, Cato Networks

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” is a well-known saying that applies to many things in life but certainly not to businesses. The business environment is rapidly evolving, and one needs to embrace a culture of constant innovation and change to help reduce production costs, boost margins, discover more agile production methods, improve customer success, find new markets to enter and maintain a competitive edge.

IT teams must also prepare for digital resiliency and be able to recalibrate and evolve their infrastructure because after a certain point legacy infrastructures will break, become inefficient, or irrelevant. Let’s explore the major hurdles IT teams will have to jump in the coming years.

New Demands and Challenges Arise From Technological Evolution

Even if a major IT disaster or a security incident doesn’t occur, the network will face new challenges brought on by cloud migration, remote working, the Internet of Things (IoT), and new cyber threats. Legacy infrastructure will have to be updated to accommodate evolving technologies, future business requirements, and opportunities.

More Applications Migrate To The Cloud

The public internet has become an extension of the conventional network, with more and more applications moving to the cloud. Organizations will need an efficient way to monitor and manage access to these applications and deal with shadow IT risks. Legacy networks will lack native connectivity, so enforcing policy, controlling, and monitoring these cloud applications and services will become increasingly challenging.

MPLS Bandwidth Costs Continue To Consume IT Budget

As applications generate more traffic and users consume more bandwidth through latency-sensitive applications like video streaming, MPLS costs will continue to rise and consume a significant portion of the corporate IT spend. Moreover, MPLS technology was not originally engineered to offer the direct-to-cloud performance required by SaaS applications or to support connectivity for mobile and home users. As organizations keep adding locations and workers over time, MPLS becomes cost-prohibitive and complex to maintain and secure.

Widespread WFH Makes Connectivity And User Experience Challenging

As the work-from-anywhere (WFA) trend continues to grow, delivering a consistent user experience becomes increasingly challenging. Sustaining WFH and mobile users adds a major burden on IT compared to supporting conventional users at the office.

The New Hybrid Workforce Introduces New Security Challenges

Organizations must provide remote users, including outsourced consultants and contractors, with network access. This requires implementing secure remote access to only necessary applications and resources with only the required level of permissions to ensure productivity.  Additionally, as ransomware and other threats continue to rise, adequate threat prevention tools must protect users and applications from cyber threats. Legacy networking and security approaches will be unable to deliver that granular level of protection.

Expansion Into New Regions Creates Issues

Growing organizations are expected to open offices in new geographical regions in the next few years. With major expansions, mergers and acquisitions taking place, IT teams are under significant pressure to integrate new locations and employees as quickly as possible. MPLS connectivity may not be ideal because it requires months to deploy, and some locations may not support it.

New Demands Mean New Expenditures

More sites mean more users and more users mean more bandwidth. Eventually, networking and security infrastructures will reach capacity limits, necessitating costly upgrades and replacements. Organizations will also need the additional skills, time and resources to deploy, secure and maintain the incremental infrastructure that will be deployed over the years. This also means training existing staff in new use cases, hiring new staff with the knowledge, or outsourcing tasks to outside partners.

The Telco Headache

Working with major carriers has historically presented challenges, which are unlikely to dissipate anytime soon. Lengthy delays in opening and closing support tickets, the lack of transparency within these large organizations, and the ongoing frustration of holding individuals accountable are issues we’ve experienced. IT departments may encounter mounting frustrations when attempting to have their feature requests fulfilled by telcos prioritizing product reselling over taking ownership of software and hardware design.

Future-proofing Connectivity

The industry is rallying around SASE (Secure Access Service Edge), a cloud-based networking and security approach that converges SD-WAN with Security Service Edge (SSE) functions like secure web gateway (SWG), data leakage prevention (DLP), zero-trust network access (ZTNA), cloud access security broker (CASB) and other security controls, to meet the challenges introduced by the cloud, mobility and shifting network traffic. Here’s why and how SASE helps overcome these challenges:

Meeting Hybrid User Demands: The SASE architecture converges networking and security into a single cloud service for secure, optimized traffic delivery.  It enhances network performance by choosing the most optimum path for the fastest packet delivery. Whether users are on the road, at the office in Japan or Spain, they receive consistent performance and secured access to any enterprise resource, including cloud applications and the internet.

Gaining Visibility and Control Over Cloud: A cloud-native architecture delivers a broad range of security capabilities that work in concert with each other. SASE allows enhanced visibility and control for all WAN and cloud traffic flows, enabling better security and streamlined management.

Although SASE represents a major shift in IT strategy, its implementation should not be disruptive. Adopters can gradually integrate SASE, expanding their deployments as service contracts expire or when new requirements dictate. Whether organizations make the move now or later, cloud computing and WFA have already altered network traffic patterns. Organizations must take a closer look at approaches that can adapt and evolve or risk being left behind.


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