For years CTOs and CIOs have been trying to modernize and take full advantage of new technologies across their organization. They have always had the courage to experiment with disruptive security technologies, but now they’re being given the business buy-in to adopt them. With the impacts of COVID-19 in 2020 (and beyond), boards of directors have witnessed first-hand our reliance on networking technology. As a result, they’ve delivered a clear directive to CTOs and CIOs: Use secure network technology to speed the enterprise faster to its business goals – music to the ears of these leaders.
According to a 2021 Gartner study, when CIOs were asked to rank technologies they’re using or plan to use in the next year, digital workplace technologies to support work from home (WFH) was number one, followed by artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML), robotic process automation (RPA), distributed cloud and multi-experience platforms. This is borne out by a 2020 IEEE survey of CTOs and CIOs: over 50% accelerated the adoption of AI and ML in 2020, along with cloud computing and 5G. Here’s the challenge: adopting disruptive technologies might sound exciting, but it puts a strain on the existing network security solutions. Whether it’s WFH, AI or cloud technology, network security leaders have to remodel their core network security technologies to ensure sufficient threat protection in this new landscape.
The need for infrastructure-led innovation
Adoption of these technologies isn’t just about adding new solutions on top of your current network security system; it demands innovation at the infrastructure level. Technology leaders who fail to embrace infrastructure-led innovation will soon find themselves relegated to legacy system support only. So, the call is to remodel your core network security technology.
When it comes to remodeling network security, this innovation platform needs to:
- lower technical debt
- help address skills gaps
- and enable automation.
Lower technical debt
In Gartner’s report, the majority of organizations selected “lower costs” as one of their top three goals for the next 12 months. This is not surprising; technical debt is a huge stumbling block to innovation. Budget is tied up in maintaining existing infrastructure rather than going to new solutions. But it goes further. Technical debt also limits workflows and capabilities across the company. It impacts mindsets and thereby smothers a culture of creativity, disruption, agility, and innovation. That culture of disruption and innovation is crucial as network security leaders remodel and adopt new approaches.
Address skills gaps
New digital initiatives almost always require new network infrastructure or security solutions, which in turn demand certain skills. The ever-changing cybersecurity landscape itself keeps network security engineers on their toes when it comes to staying abreast of the latest knowledge. It’s increasingly challenging to find candidates with the intersection of expert networking and security skills needed for adopting new technologies and remodeling network security infrastructure. Therefore, any re-imagined network security platform needs to be intuitive, quick to set up and easy to manage.
The biggest common denominator across emerging technologies like remote working, AI/ML and cloud computing is that they automate processes and decisions. Automation makes way for a faster pace and a scalable digital business. It also improves operational efficiencies – thereby bringing costs down – and eliminates the need for scarce technical expertise. Understandably then, automation is one attribute network security leaders are prioritizing as they remodel their network security platforms.
Automated firewall virtualization: the key to remodeling core network security
With their mandate to speed the enterprise faster to its business goals and their requirements to reduce technical debt, fill skills gaps, and introduce automation, network security leaders have a tall order when it comes to achieving all of that while still protecting the enterprise.
Let’s take firewalls as an example. Traditional firewall architectures are complicated, costly, do not scale and lock you in. Moving to virtual firewalls solves these issues, but the thought of the DevOps needed to implement virtualization puts off most security teams; network security has some crucial requirements which must be expertly implemented. The solution? Make it automated. In other words, a platform which offers simple replacement of hardware firewalls with virtual ones and zero‑touch network security operations. A platform which:
- offers a cloud computing experience
- can be consumed as a service
- eliminates the need to maintain infrastructure.
Automated firewall virtualization addresses all the goals outlined above of infrastructure-led innovation. It keeps the infrastructure light and agile, while providing robust technology to effectively protect data.
It lowers TCO
Virtualizing your firewall means you’re migrating your investment from physical firewalls to virtual instances. There is no hefty capital expenditure, or regular physical hardware upgrades, but instead a monthly subscription service based on the enterprise’s current needs.
It addresses skills gaps
A turnkey approach is one where the set-up and integration is taken care of. Virtualization can be a complex process, but when it’s turnkey you minimize the need for DevOps (which are hard-to-find skills) and help plug the skills gap.
It enables automation
Lastly, this approach enables businesses to make the most of automation. As cybersecurity increases in complexity, automation reduces human errors and removes the burden of manual management and compliance. It increases consistency, streamlines operations, integrates security into processes, applications and infrastructure, and can lower the cost of breaches.
There is no denying that disruption to technology has happened. It may have been COVID-19 in 2020, but network security leaders report a major disruption of some kind almost every year. Enterprises need a network security infrastructure which allows the business to shift when they encounter the next disruption, for increased agility and flexibility. Now is the time for these leaders to leverage network security virtualization and automation in their innovation platform. Only then can they apply cost intelligence, lower technical debt, forward-fill skills and enable anywhere operations to be relevant in the post-COVID-19 world.
Download our whitepaper, Automating Firewall Virtualization is Easy, to find out how you can remodel your core network security technologies with simple, automated firewall virtualization and zero-touch network security operations.