Technolgy

SD-WAN: Transforming enterprise network during the pandemic and beyond

By Rakesh Goyal

The Covid-19 pandemic has emerged as one of the biggest health crises of the decade, with governments worldwide taking strict measures to control the spread of the virus. From impacting millions of lives, the pandemic has caused financial distress across both big industries and smaller enterprises. The wide-scale impact of the coronavirus outbreak has brought unprecedented changes to the world and the people around us. A quarter has passed since India witnessed the first outbreak, but the fraught of Covid-19 is very much visible. From operational challenges, supply chain issues, slowing demand, and the overall economic slowdown, businesses are struggling to adapt to the new normal. Besides, the continued lockdown and a sudden shift to remote working with limited safeguards have made the enterprise segment more vulnerable to the growing risk of cyberthreats.

Remote working: Safeguarding assets, employees and customers
Amid the pandemic, thousands of employees have been forced to work from home, physical meetings and discussions have become a rare sight, and there’s an increased reliance on virtual tools and resources. The sudden move towards remote working meant businesses had little scope to plan for the transition or put the infrastructure and tools in place to support its employees. With many employees requiring access to the same enterprise applications, IT teams across organizations had a tough time understanding the challenges and fixing network-related issues – with limited or no access to real-time information and usage patterns that could help them take control over the network. The challenges of the network-related problems not only impacted the workflow but also resulted in productivity losses.

SD-WAN is one of the inevitable technologies that form the framework for this market shift. Business needs to equip itself in meeting the evolving demands

Besides, with the growing push for remote working and people utilizing their home networks for official work, concerns are also growing around the enterprise network’s security. A recent report by PwC claimed that companies are seeing a significant rise in their expenditure due to a massive wave of cyberattacks as most of their employees work from home amid the coronavirus pandemic. Hackers frequently look at crises as an opportunity, and COVID-19 is no different. Cybercriminals are taking advantage of the latest trend with attacker groups impersonating reputed health organizations and using COVID-19 themes as a lure for phishing and malware attempts—misleading employees and customers, trying to get their targets to click malicious links and download files.

Among other learnings, Covid-19 has brought in an important lesson for both corporates and individuals – never let your guard down. Businesses today need to step up their approach to cybersecurity even as hackers trying hard to breach the security protocol successfully. Threat vectors are evolving every day with changes in the technology landscape, and cybersecurity is becoming increasingly complicated. The significant reasons why the detection and response of malicious activities are becoming complicated include the impairment of security teams, rapid digitization, and unprocessed technology onboarding.

Overall, Covid-19 has changed the dynamics of the workplace. The perimeter of every organization has reached the residence of the employees. The dependency on WAN, maintenance of un-compromised application performance, and extending enterprise-grade security to individuals working from home, has reached its peak. In-short the extent of digital transformation adoption that was expected a few years ahead of us has been brought nearer.

Preparing the network capabilities for the future enterprise
We are in an era where digital transformation is not an option but a necessity for business sustenance and excellence. SD-WAN is one of the inevitable technologies that form the framework for this market shift. Business needs to equip itself in meeting the evolving demands of their customers. It will have to penetrate through multiple barriers and constraints in the form of location, device type, and platform, etc., to reach their customers in the most cost-efficient manner.

SD-WAN is an industry agnostic solution that can be used in any business concern that is looking out for cost optimization of WAN and overall efficiency improvement.

SD-WAN is an industry agnostic solution that can be used in any business concern that is looking out for cost optimization of WAN and overall efficiency improvement. As per Gartner and other third-party market analysts, the SD-WAN market is still vibrant with a forecast of over 67% CAGR, and the overall market evaluation is forecasted to be about 6Billion+ in 2023. Hence, Infinxt can be the right investment for many organizations across industries, particularly BFSI, NBFC, Retail, IT/ITES, Manufacturing, Service consultants.

As users move off the campus network to remote connections, SD-WAN adoption is taking off because it provides a virtual WAN architecture that lets businesses use any combination of transport services, including MPLS, LTE and broadband internet services securely connect users to applications. These capabilities make SD-WAN the most appropriate solution to address the company’s business objective in alignment with its customer aspirations. Secure SD-WAN helps organizations to consolidate multiple routers, firewalls, load balancers into a single software-defined solution.

With more companies evaluating the scope of adopting work flexibility and encouraging remote working, the revaluation of cyber-defenses will become necessary. With distributed networks and remote access to applications, companies need to create models that reveal network redundancies, detect advanced threats, and discover systemic incident response gaps. Even traditional institutions like education and healthcare institutions will have to explore the use of co-sourcing with external consultants after identifying key risk areas.

Traditional SD-WAN requires organizations to make additional spend towards ensuring branch location network security. Further, integrating all these appliances is another challenge and requires multiple dedicated resources to manage the same. For the IT departments powering these industries, SD-WAN will be vital in increasing visibility to remote operations, ensuring company data is heavily guarded and managed with utmost precision.

Building a next-gen Secure SD-WAN
Corporates and Enterprises are aware of the benefits of cost and efficiency that could be brought by making the right choice in SD-WAN investment. As per Gartner’s report, more than 90% router refreshes will be replaced by vCPE or SD-WAN by 2022. Routers were architected for legacy WAN networks and did not provide any application-level visibility. The market is spoiled for choices as every OEM is trying to woo the customer with one or the other SD-WAN like offering that does not necessarily abide by the rules of SDN. But, most solutions available today are built on Router platforms or Firewall platforms, which certainly do not deliver the true benefit of SD-WAN. Besides, the pandemic has pushed several companies previously circumspect of adopting BYOD or WFH to embrace it without any other choice. So, this has become a blessing in disguise for many industrial sectors where they got the opportunity to test the waters and realize the benefits.

The market is spoiled for choices as every OEM is trying to woo the customer with one or the other SD-WAN like offering that does not necessarily abide by the rules of SDN.

Infinxt, one of the flagship products of Infinity Labs, addresses the current requirement of WAN and security consolidation through AI lead automation and orchestration. Infinxt is based on pure SDN architecture as per RFC 7426. Infinxt SD-WAN offers a series of benefits to customers. These include business agility by rapid and easy deployment, inherent economics by providing the same level of QoS of MPLS at a fraction of cost and optimized cloud architecture with inbuilt NGFW.

The solution has been developed indigenously and has gone through a continuous evolution process to meet the market’s dynamic requirement. Streaming Telemetry, a unique offering in the current solution,  brings the advantages of Real-time monitoring over the traditional SNMP based management platforms. Infinxt Next-Generation Secure SD-WAN reduces the total cost of ownership and ease of managing multiple edge devices. The inbuilt NGFW from Palo Networks adjudged as the eight times consecutive leader in Gartner Magic Quadrant provides Layer 7 application Security. The solution comes pre-loaded with DNS Security, Threat Prevention, PANDB URL filtering, and Wildfire.

Moreover, it also provides essential benefits to multi-site customers. It allows branch offices to easily connect to each other, without building VPN connections, managing routing tables, and different complex networking configurations. The solution has been designed to interoperate and co-exist with existing gateway security investment and provides enterprises with the flexibility to make their network and security choices.

The author Rakesh Goyal is CEO, Infinity Labs Ltd

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