Technological change is happening faster now than at any time in my over 30-year career in the connectivity industry. Where people connect from, how they connect and what they connect is one of the biggest challenges facing the world’s largest multinational corporations in 2021.
There is an ever increasing need for more bandwidth. Business leaders also want to cut costs. And now we have an army of teleworkers numbering in the millions around the world. It is likely that many will continue to have some flexibility as to where they work in the future, which means that there is an ongoing problem to be addressed: the large number of people sitting outside the network. traditional business using the Internet to access resources through the cloud computing, and how to optimize the user experience and help protect them and the data they use.
In recent years, businesses have adopted SD-WAN technology to help them better manage their network traffic and applications. Companies that were well on this path may have been able to respond better to the impact of a global pandemic. The additional smart grid layer allows much more flexibility in managing the company’s IT infrastructure, as well as a good platform for remote workers to access company assets, but that doesn’t matter. don’t stop there. The need to holistically approach how to wrap the distributed ecosystem in a security umbrella is essential to protect these assets. And here’s why.
Zero trust network access
The best user experience is to access the cloud resource through the shortest possible path, which is rarely achieved by routing traffic through the data center. When traffic is not passing through the data center, it will not be protected by perimeter security devices hosted there, such as firewalls. Administrators must be able to apply consistent security policies wherever the user is: office, home or local cafe and regardless of the network connection via VPN.
There is also a need for what we call zero trust network access. Zero Trust assumes that traditional access credentials are no longer sufficient to accurately establish trusted identities for user, device, and application access. Instead, organizations should undertake continuous, risk-based assessment of these component entities with granular security controls to manage, monitor, and enforce access. This solution only grants access to specific applications that users need to perform their tasks, reducing the number of users with access to sensitive data.
As we look into the future, the complete solution that comes from interweaving these elements into networking and cybersecurity technology is what is dubbed SASE (pronounced sassy). The term, which stands for Secure Access Service Edge, was coined by leading analyst firm Gartner in 2019. It is essentially an architecture that combines wide area network (WAN) technology with comprehensive security features. He encourages companies to start consolidating these functions with fewer vendors in order to centralize visibility, simplify management and potentially lower costs.
Let’s go back a few years to when SD-WAN technology started to emerge. Promises of savings and simplification have been made. The reality turned out to be different at first. AT&T has been at the center of many complex and global transformation projects, and as a result, we’ve learned some of the positives and the pitfalls. With the level of complexity of a modern digital network, many businesses choose a managed SD-WAN service. SDWAN is a key component of the SASE architecture. AT&T provides subject matter experts to help you navigate this difficult path of integrating the right solutions for the customer.
Couple that with managed security and our relationships with major cloud providers, and AT&T is well positioned to be a trusted advisor for a SASE implementation. Our ability to provide large-scale, multi-year, multi-continental design and deployment of new infrastructure is well proven.
Many envision SASE as coming from a single vendor or perhaps a single platform, but experience has shown that technology that can appear to offer simplicity is often complex to implement and manage, especially when scaling a global organization.
The complete SASE suite is not yet known. Most of you will likely adopt more than one technology vendor and a hybrid model in the early stages, where traditional networking and security systems can handle existing connectivity between data centers and existing sites, letting SASE take care of new connections, devices, users, and locations.
Digital transformation is coming soon
At the start of 2020, the convergence of SD-WAN, security and the cloud was over several years. However, the global pandemic has raised the bar for business continuity, and the next step in digital transformation is coming much sooner than many of us in this industry expected.
In data-dense industries where security is critical, SASE will likely provide a better, safer, and more user-friendly experience. It will also allow companies to react more quickly to crises, minimizing the impact of the crisis on the business. And it will better position businesses to take advantage of other technologies, such as 5G and advanced computing. SD-WAN leadership, a strong managed service position in cybersecurity, and strategic alliances with cloud providers are required keys. The ability to integrate the right mix of solutions to deliver business value is also important. Technical know-how and the ability to stay ahead of technological trends to simplify the customer experience will bear the burden.
AT&T teams around the world bring all this and more, and are ready to support you, our customers, in your digital transformation.
- John Vladimir Slamecka, Regional President, EMEA at AT&T.