Supporting an ongoing hybrid work environment and its resulting distributed workforce is one of the biggest challenges for network teams. While virtual private networks (VPNs) offered a temporary solution following the shift to remote work, the network must adapt to provide the level of performance and security needed. One of the ways in which teams are answering these challenges is through network automation.
Network Automation: Companies implementing software-defined networking (SDN) appreciated the programmability of a virtualized network solution. In its next iteration, network teams are building customized automation platforms on top of SDN.
The focus on automation means building a team that is skilled in areas like application programming interfaces (APIs), configuration management and programmability. With many teams lacking these skills in-house, some technology providers are offering mentoring programs to upskill client teams.
SD-WAN, SSE and SASE: In the increasingly complex network infrastructure, teams are struggling to provide the level of performance their users and applications require while also bolstering security. Three options offer different approaches to addressing these concerns:
· SD-WAN: Software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) offers companies a way to set business policy to segment and prioritize network traffic. It is effective at helping manage bandwidth demands, gaining visibility and control over network management and limiting the impact of an intrusion.
· SASE: Secure access service edge (SASE) combines SD-WAN with four other major technologies: cloud-access security broker, zero-trust network access, secure web gateway and Firewall as a Service. The combined, cloud-based platform offers policy enforcement and security at the cloud edge.
· SSE: Secure service edge (SSE) is basically SASE minus SD-WAN. It equips companies with edge-based security tools that keep protection close to where the processing is occurring. When network teams can offer these services in a single platform, it allows for easily management and scalability.
All of these technologies equip companies to address network performance and security with an integrated approach. In the past, they have been thought of as different technologies, but the solution provides many benefits over older technologies like VPNs.
When VPNs are being utilized by remote workers, it creates a lot of extra network traffic. The main issue with VPNs is that they have to connect to the VPN gateway, creating excess traffic backhauling to the data center and increasing congestion. Bringing all traffic back to the data center also further compromises security.
The use of network automation, integrated networking and security brings all of these activities securely to the edge, improving performance and eliminating risk all at the same time.
5G: An alternative networking solution for companies with a large fleet of Internet of Things (IoT) devices or field area networks is the use of private 5G as a dedicated cellular network. Companies in industries like healthcare, utilities and manufacturing have the potential to address major connectivity challenges through a private 5G network.
To learn more about the potential benefits solutions like network automation or a private 5G network could offer your company, contact us at eXemplify. From addressing the security and networking challenges of a dispersed workforce to automating maintenance tasks to ease the burden on your team, we can help you leverage the right solutions to improve connectivity and security.