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Networking and Security: The Twain Shall Meet in a Digital World

A new research reveals that security and networks will require deeper integration within the organization

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“Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet …” When Rudyard Kipling wrote that opening line to “The Ballad of East and West,” little could he have known that it might one day serve as a metaphor for the relationship between modern-day security and network operations.

Historically, the two have operated as separate entities in distinct silos and often it has been difficult for the two teams to find satisfactory middle ground. Today, the changes are very much on the cards.

A new research by Juniper Networks clarifies that security and networks will require deeper integration within the organization, more so as service providers are facing significant security and capacity challenges in the digital world that cannot be addressed with traditional standalone approach.

“As networks trend towards virtualized, cloud infrastructure and edge architecture, it is vital for security to be embedded and designed into the architecture to allow teams to work more closely together. This sets a foundation for solutions that require a higher level of coordination between IT organizations of large service providers such as deploying AI-driven solutions to build automated, scalable and secure networks,” Lee Ming Kai, Head of Systems Engineering, APAC, Juniper Networks said.

The study conducted research firm Omdia which surveyed a panel of qualified APAC-based networking and security decision makers across 77 communications service providers, revealed that while increasing overall security capacity with new hardware investment is an option for some, security budgets for most service providers are expected to be constrained.

Furthermore, massive increases in traffic for business and consumer applications are forcing service providers around the APAC region to rethink how they architect networks and deploy security for them at scale. As a result, service providers are looking for ways to create meaningful integrations in networking and security that will deploy effective security at scale while decreasing investments in expensive new hardware, said Juniper researchers, adding

According to the study, respondents said they have seen a moderate to significant growth in the volume of threats in the last year, and 78% expect a moderate to significant increase in the next year. In such a scenario, nearly three-quarters (73%) of respondents are looking to increase security capacity in response to network traffic and architecture.

Good news is, over two-thirds of the respondents said that their security architecture is already changing or that changes will be made in the next 18 months. Changes in security architecture is part of the long-term evolution of network infrastructure. The top drivers for these changes are virtualization, multi-cloud, gaining access to new security technologies and the move to distributed/edge architecture.

The APAC decision makers assume they will leverage integrated networking or security solutions. As the study noted that tightly integrated security and networking infrastructure can mobilize networking devices that have the high-speed hardware required to participate in the mitigation of key threats. Without integration, the hardware would have lacked the intelligence required to respond to these threats.

Jeff Wilson, Chief Analyst, Cybersecurity, Omdia, said, “Industry luminaries have long expected security and networking to converge at the heart of the world’s biggest networks, and our study provides a solid base of evidence that it’s actually taking place.”

He added, “At first look, one might expect that the sole drivers would be to improve security scale and performance, and to simplify operations. However, respondents noted improved visibility and security efficacy as key drivers. We believe it’s all of the above, and it’s happening now.”

Therefore, much like in Kipling’s poem, where a British officer and Afghan raider in the 19th century begin as rivals and end as mutual admirers, network and security convergence will be imperative for service providers in the coming days.

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Sohini Bagchi
Sohini Bagchi is Editor at CXOToday, a published author and a storyteller. She can be reached at sohini.bagchi@trivone.com