It’s apparent that U.S. organizations have accepted that cloud is here to stay; A recent analysis from Maverick Research found that more than 80% of CIOs estimate that more than half of their business will be conducted on cloud infrastructure by 2020, and roughly the same number predicted that applications supported by a SaaS platform will support more than half of their business transactions.
With this relatively newfound cloud acceptance, those managing the enterprise’s networking infrastructure have begun to realize that no single vendor can truly meet every need. Most businesses, particularly within enterprise and mid-market will likely require significant overhauls to their networks in order to support multi-source congestion from SaaS as well support digital transformation initiatives; as legacy networks were built for an era of static connections, a time when companies built their own private networks using largely proprietary hardware to connect to server/client networks.
Although IT professionals have been talking about SD-WAN technology for years, in 2019 it will be a major component in how networks are built and rebuilt. SD-WAN enables networks to route traffic based on centrally-managed rules and roles, regardless of where the entry or exit point of the traffic originates—and the data is fully secure. Research projects that SD-WAN networks will explode by 500%, and those businesses that aren’t currently using SD-WAN will likely be making plans for its adoption.
One of the primary benefits of SD-WAN is that the network can be run by leaner, more agile teams of networking engineers, making it easier to make modifications as business needs change. Eventually, SD-WAN will begin to transition into more “intent-based” networking; this type of networking will change the way connectivity is delivered and, based on the defined standards, will adapt automatically to the needs of a business by analyzing various traffic events against KPI’s, flagging suspicious activities and implementing additional security measures as they’re needed.
Rohit Mehra, Vice President, Network Infrastructure, IDC says, “Intent-based networking is a significant development for the networking industry. It encompasses not only advanced levels of visibility, automation and assurance, but it is the platform on which new machine learning-based network management functionality will be built.” Since the network of the future will use machine learning and AI to become cognitive, proactive and potentially self-driven, intent-based networking is important to enable continuous adaptation to environments that are constantly in flux.
Another current network trend is the increasing discussion and adoption of WAN Edge architecture as cloud continues to drive vital changes to how networks are built, requiring more flexible network architectures that can accommodate and secure connections to multiple clouds. The WAN edge is the natural connection point to the cloud and where enterprises should be plugging in new security and SD-WAN software to safely and efficiently traverse this complicated network and provide appropriate policies to locations around the world.
In 2018, Gartner published its first Magic Quadrant for WAN Edge Infrastructure. SDXCentral reportedly asked Gartner analyst Joe Skorupa why the report wasn’t simply called Magic Quadrant for SD-WAN. Skorupa replied that the changes in the edge of the wide area network are much bigger than just SD-WAN. Skroupa went on to tell SDXCentral that the new WAN will include services ranging from security, to a variety of WAN optimization types, to secure web gateways, and “things like micro-segmentation all the way from the data center to the end user,” along with hosting of third-party applications in edge computing scenarios. “SD-WAN is just going to be a feature,” he said.
As Joe mentions, the relationship between SD-WAN and security is in the process of a growing revolution. Edge devices and IoT, for example, will provide an increased area to potential threats and will create more opportunities for misconfigurations or vulnerabilities that can be exploited.
As you’ve no doubt noticed, it’s not just the number of cyber attacks that have increased, but also the severity. Throughout 2019, we’ll no doubt hear more tales of infiltrations and data loss from organizations across the globe—and not just enterprise organizations, either. Due to the ever-increasing concern for security, 2019 will be another record year for network security spending and a banner year for IT security vendors and resellers. Gartner predicts that, worldwide, the IT security solutions market will increase by nearly 9% from 2018’s estimated $114 billion to over $124 billion.
Going back to SD-WAN for a minute, advisors suggest that high levels of security functionality should be built directly into the network’s foundation; ideally a wide-ranging suite of security components should be native to the network, delivered in a single SD-WAN platform in order to complement the other layers within a customer’s security posture. A few of these network security features would include:
- Next-generation firewall
- DDoS protection
- Integrated intrusion Detection System (IDS) and Prevention (IPS), Anti-ransomware and Anti-virus
- Layer 3 protection – ARP, IP ICMP protocol defense, IP spoofing, source-routing checks, fragment overlaps
SD-WAN, WAN Edge and network security are all vital solutions that companies of all sizes must seriously evaluate as the adoption of cloud in support of digital transformation journeys continues to boom. Ensuring that networks are not only efficient but also secure should be the primary concern, not just in 2019 but moving forward.