It’s time to assertively advance the digital transformation cause
As the globe enters its second year beholden to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an increasing emphasis on the adoption and optimisation of new technology. This is driven by the general acceptance of the “new normal”, central to which is the need to provide organisations and their employees with the ability to safely and securely connect to business applications from any location.
For example, an idea finally acquiring its place in the sun is the pandemic-inspired “work-cation” − a trip where you travel to a new destination and work from there while taking advantage of a change of scenery without taking a leave of absence from “the office”.
In the corporate networking space, we can therefore envisage a steady growth in the application of new technologies as organisations move to underpin the “work from anywhere” digital business transformation with cloud-based, software-defined secure access solutions.
And, as organisations move ever-rapidly to convert their conventional network edge infrastructures, a significant increase in the application of technologies such as software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) and the Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) is to be anticipated.
According to the Gartner research and advisory firm, the market for branch office WAN edge functionality will progressively migrate from previous-generation dedicated routing, security and WAN optimisation appliances, to feature-rich SD-WAN options in tandem with organisations’ requirements for seamless and effortless collaboration between individuals and teams of employees in distributed locations.
Thus, the functions of previously-dedicated WAN optimisation and security appliances will progressively be delivered as added features of new SD-WAN solutions.
From a technical perspective, Gartner says these SD-WAN solutions will replace traditional branch routers with application-aware path selection among multiple links, centralised orchestration and native security, as well as application performance optimisation functions.
At the same time, we can expect the SASE market to grow exponentially, buoyed by demands centred on SASE’s role in converging SD-WAN and emerging sets of new-generation network security services into a unified, fully-integrated, cloud-native, globally-distributed platform.
In a previous column, I said SASE’s policies are destined to redefine the enterprise network and remodel the security landscape by facilitating the secure connection of remote users to their applications, data and services on an “anywhere, anytime access” basis, while maintaining multi-branch and multi-cloud network security.
I wrote that SASE applications are key to assisting organisations to transform their networks from “fragile to agile”, proposing an agile network be defined by its ability to automatically adapt to changes at lightning speed while maintaining resiliency, security and management simplicity.
Obviously, the need to assertively advance the digital transformation cause and accelerate cloud adoption has never been greater.
Even so, with the increased focus on transformational technologies backed by a rapidly-appearing raft of new approaches, questions are being asked as to whether the supplier community is sufficiently prepared and suitably primed to deliver reliable solutions capable of meeting organisations’ future needs.
Only recently, the WAN edge market was dominated by a handful of principal suppliers with skills confined to specific routing solutions. When it came to network security and WAN optimisation, other suppliers, perhaps better versed in the installation of dedicated appliances, became the preferred alternatives.
Today, however, with the integration of SD-WAN and SASE technologies − together with the increasing commoditisation of the market − suppliers previously offering non-conflicting, siloed solutions are now aggressively competing with one another.
Currently, the supplier topography can be described as “deeply fragmented” with established vendors competing with newcomers from disparate technology segments for market share.
Optimistic industry watchers believe this is set to change, with the SD-WAN / SASE alliance demanding a marriage-of-sorts between former competitors. Cloud computing is expected to be the primary matchmaker. Until these nuptials are celebrated, is there a recognised vendor evaluation method?
According to analysts, organisations searching for digital transformation solutions should opt for vendors and appropriate channel partners with strong ties to cloud service providers in order to simplify and streamline future distributed cloud access initiatives.
Cloud optimisation is strategically imperative if organisations are to realise the many benefits digital transformation offers. So too is the need to transform both the WAN and security architectures – not one or the other.
The challenge faced by organisations in 2021 and beyond will be to successfully plot a course that takes them from a legacy, data-centric, perimeter-focused architecture, to a cloud-oriented SASE framework capable of delivering an exceptional user experience while simultaneously addressing security issues, particularly those associated with Internet of things (IOT) initiatives.
Globally, there is an approaching tsunami in terms of IOT and mobile device deployments. Its energy is derived from the digital transformation surge and the rising tide associated with the adoption of dynamic network segmentation structures.
IOT technology will spur a move towards a more refined, granular version of network segmentation. Expect virtual segmented environments to be created, based not only on device type, but also on end-user profiles and a host of other criteria. This will facilitate the formation of an infinite number of network segments, typical of a highly-evolved distributed environment.
However, these environments will also be responsible for increased risk as the “corporate attack surface” is moved well beyond traditional network boundaries. Coming to terms with this situation via the assistance of SASE technology is hastily evolving into a central requirement of the modern network’s security framework.
In this light, the challenge is for organisations to minimise complexity and administration overhead in concert with their suppliers and reseller partners.
Importantly, successful vendor-reseller-buyer partnerships will be characterised by the degree of “vision” exhibited by the parties and their collective abilities to design, shape and implement the operational fabrics needed to meet impending challenges.
Perhaps the last word should go to Gary Shapiro, CEO of the US-based Consumer Technology Association. Speaking at the recent, fully-digital Consumer Electronics Show, he said that while the broad adoption of digital technology has been a “stabilising, unifying force for good” during the COVID-19 pandemic, the “future of work will require lots more flexibility on how to collaborate, learn and define well-being”.
Article has been taken from Business Technology Media Company, please see the original article below: