Why SD-WAN takes on greater importance in hybrid IT environments

Modern software-defined wide area networking gives agencies more agility and stronger security to meet their zero-trust security strategies.
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As government organizations continue to expand their hybrid IT environments and adopt zero trust security practices, agency leaders will need to move away from traditional wide area networks (WAN) and adopt newer software-defined networking (SD-WAN) solutions, says a long-time federal security expert in a new report.

That transition takes on new importance in light of the May 2021 White House executive order outlining new requirements to embed stronger security controls embedded into federal IT enterprise networks, including implementing zero-trust security architecture within the year.


Read the full report.

The executive order follows more than a year of fast-tracked modernization initiatives by federal and state agencies to support their remote workforce, including the deployment of online as-a-service platforms, digital voice and video applications and robotic process automation.

“As agencies integrate more digital services, they are looking to tap into the dynamic connectivity of hybrid IT environments. [However,] overlay security tools are no longer capable of adapting to these environments,” said Jim Richberg, field CISO at Fortinet and former National Intelligence Manager for Cyber in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

The uptick in demand for faster, more user-focused and secure tools require infrastructure upgrades to provide higher bandwidth, scalability, flexibility and integrated security. Software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) is proving to be one of the fastest-growing segments of the network infrastructure which can provide all these things, according to information from Gartner cited a new Scoop News Report, underwritten by Fortinet and immixGroup,.

Integrating security and networking has never been more important, said Richberg, and he pointed to research from Fortinet which showed ransomware instances that arrived through the endpoint increase by 700% in the second half of 2020.

“Even with multifactor or endpoint security solutions, the reality is that organizations still don’t know what is going in the environment,” he said, adding that with cyberthreats today, organizations can’t afford to function as if the network and security are separate. These two functions are increasingly converged, and SD-WAN is able to treat it as such.

The report points to several key benefits of SD-WAN networking. Most importantly, it supports zero trust strategies, including the ability to validate devices and users on the network, close visibility gaps in a hybrid environment and automate security policy updates across the network. Additionally, it is available for federal agencies to purchase under the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) contract task order.

According to Richberg, a best-of-breed SD-WAN solution tightly integrates networking connectivity and security, meeting multiple networking needs at once.

The report highlights five ways that advanced SD-WAN solutions, like those from Fortinet can be “self-healing,” using automation.

The report also delineates why not all SD-WAN solutions deliver the same level of security capabilities. More robust solutions, for instance, embedded with tried-and-tested artificial intelligence and machine learning technology, give agencies the ability to achieve a common operating picture of their networks and respond to threats more quickly.

“Adding AI to policy-driven automation allows the system to validate users and deal with low level security anomalies automatically, which frees agency employees to focus on those more complex tasks where they need to exercise their skill and judgement,” the report concluded.

Read more about why transitioning to secure SD-WAN is the right choice for government agencies.

This article was produced by Scoop News Group and sponsored by Fortinet and immixGroup.

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