How MSPs Can Improve Scalability and Agility with SD-WAN and ZTNA
The post-pandemic “New Normal” is now characterized by highly distributed networks supporting hybrid work models and environments – from permanent remote working to traditional in-person models. The practical reality of this environment is a requirement for consistent performance for any user, from any location, on any device, using any access method to directly access cloud-based corporate resources. Additionally, the expansion of distributed computing and work-from-anywhere means that Zero Trust principles of ensuring only legitimate network access, is more important than ever before. The ability to continuously assess remote users and devices without compromising performance and user experience is critical to mitigating the risk, as well as delivering business objectives. Accordingly, many organizations are looking into Zero Trust Architectures to secure remote access and respond to dynamic business changes.
The way we communicate and conduct commerce has permanently changed and that’s driving new demand for managed service providers (MSPs). Across the industry, everyone from enterprises to analysts are recognizing the need for the convergence of networking and security to meet the needs of today’s digital marketplace and society. Indeed, concepts such as Secure SD-WAN and Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) all outline an integrated approach to delivering integrated networking and security. MSPs can meet their customers’ needs and maximize network performance and security using a combination of SD-WAN and Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA). The current generation of Secure SD-WAN solutions enables customers to connect branch offices and remote workers to multiple cloud environments securely while using performance-based intelligent routing to ensure consistent application performance needed for enhanced user experiences and the resulting better business outcomes.
Secure SD-WAN offers features like dynamic failover, forward error correction, SLA-based application steering, along with enterprise-grade security. SD-WAN is critically important because it dynamically routes traffic across broadband, 4G, 5G or MPLS to ensure consistent quality of service, which is essential for better user experiences and business outcomes. That’s why SD-WAN is foundational to enterprise networking strategies.
Accelerated hybrid cloud adoption and widespread remote working means that access control is more critical than ever before. Going forward, the least-privilege access basis of Zero Trust that ensures only legitimate users can only access what they need to perform their duties is foundational to cybersecurity strategies. The integration of Secure SD-WAN and ZTNA offers MSPs a unique opportunity to offer highly-differentiated managed services. It’s clear that traditional siloed solutions can’t deliver the intelligent scalability and agility needed for e-commerce, remote working, telemedicine, remote learning, autonomous manufacturing and all facets of digital transformation.
Scalability and Agility
In addition to supporting consistent, ubiquitous secure remote access, organizations also need to be able to quickly adapt to changing business needs. By incorporating SD-WAN and ZTNA, MSPs can offer solutions that support the new networking and security requirements of today’s digital infrastructure. Along with these new services, MSPs should also consider flexible consumption models. Organizations of all sizes are demanding flexible consumption models that allow access to technology and services based on a pay-as-you-go model. This is particularly attractive for organizations seeking agility in deploying networking and security services with all the inherent elasticity and scalability of the cloud. Consumption often varies depending on market conditions, seasons or outside forces, so it’s key to offer solutions that adapt to the customer’s changing requirements. Thus, it’s clear that traditional multi-vendor, disaggregated products and siloed operations simply cannot meet such requirements.
Scalability and agility are also critical considerations for an MSP’s security operations as well. Success as an MSP is deeply dependent on delivering consistent quality of services with clear economies of scale. Afterall, standardized, scalable offerings mean better services, revenue recognition and margin performance. Here, platform and vendor consolidation strategies can deliver substantial benefits in reducing complexity and box sprawl to more efficient performance across training, licensing, and operational requirements. MSPs should consider platforms that integrate a complete security stack along with SD-WAN for consistent network management and security policy enforcement on the LAN, WAN, data center and cloud edges.
Taking an Integrated Approach
The next generation of digital infrastructure requires the dynamic intelligence of Secure SD-WAN and ZTNA and MSPs are uniquely positioned to offer these solutions. Instead of trying to bolt on security after the fact, it makes more sense to take an integrated platform approach so that the networking and security solutions work as a unified system. Integrated security then seamlessly adapts and scales and helps to avoid the almost inevitable security gaps that can occur with an overlay security solution. For MSPs that want to expand their security options, cybersecurity mesh platforms can help them reduce their overhead while giving customers the scalable, flexible solutions they need to meet their business demands.
Author Jonathan Nguyen is VP of field CISO at Fortinet. Read more Fortinet blogs here. Regularly contributed guest blogs are part of MSSP Alert’s sponsorship program.