By Azim Makan
Organizations often hear that everything must move to the cloud, and traditional networks are dead. While networks are vastly different from just a few years ago, nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, hybrid IT architectures will likely be the norm – at least for the foreseeable future.
Hybrid networks enable connections between data centers, multi-cloud infrastructures, SaaS platforms, and prove that organizations can maintain traditional networks and provide a consistent user experience for remote work. However, their cybersecurity approach must support both cloud-delivered and on-premises in an integrated way.
Network and security convergence
To achieve this integrated approach to security, organizations must stop thinking about
networking and security as separate strategies. Today’s complex ecosystems are already challenging to defend with business-critical applications deployed in multi-cloud environments and on-premises assets accessible from anywhere. The problem intensifies when organizations rely on outdated security tools.
As network edges and dynamic infrastructures evolve, single-purpose, stand-alone security solutions will only add complexity. For organizations looking to implement a cohesive and comprehensive security strategy, the best investment is a platform approach that connects operational efficiency and security automation with the underlying network.
That’s the thinking behind the Fortinet Security Fabric, with FortiOS7.2. Its platform approach converges essential network and security functions and consolidates security point products. With this model, security becomes the central consideration for all business-driven infrastructure decisions, enabling customers to better compete in today’s digital marketplace.
Flexibility for growth
An essential function of a modern security solution is its ability to scale and adapt to a continuously evolving hybrid network. However, very few security solutions can provide this essential function.
For example, supporting work from anywhere requires organizations use SD-WAN and tools to enable a zero-trust network approach, particularly Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) to secure application access. Because ZTNA ensures access all the time and from everywhere, it has become crucial to nearly every security strategy. However, many vendors’ ZTNA implementation is limited to cloud-based applications, which won’t work for organizations with a combination of hybrid cloud and on-premises applications.
One way to ensure the best coverage is to build enforcement into firewalls spread across the network through appliances or virtual machines. While legacy firewalls with commercially available, generic CPUs can’t handle the multiple applications needed, modern firewalls like FortiGate can. With ZTNA, Next Generation Firewall (NGFW) security, an access point controller, 5G controllers, and SD-WAN, they can easily replace five appliances with one.
AI-powered threat intelligence and services
Organizations that take advantage of a converged and integrated approach like the Fortinet Security Fabric can also take advantage of AI-powered automation to compare intelligence gathered across the network and through global threat feeds. All FortiGuard services are powered by trusted machine learning and artificial intelligence, and FortiGuard Labs’ analysis of over 100 billion observed global security events a day in live production environments. These insights enable the rapid detection of even the most sophisticated threats and power real-time responses.
For example, AI-powered FortiGuard Security Services enable organizations to automate their security systems to stay ahead of exploits in real-time and across the extended attack surface. FortiOS 7.2’s inline sandbox service offers real-time in-network prevention of known and unknown malware, which limits impact on operations.
Increase visibility and control
A platform approach can also help organizations avoid vendor and solution sprawl. While that “best-of-breed” approach to security might have worked in the past, today’s hybrid networks and multi-edge environments require a platform approach.
Replacing isolated point devices with solutions designed to operate as part of an integrated fabric can enable comprehensive security and unlock advanced process automation to simplify workflows.
And because the Fortinet Security Fabric platform is built around common standards and open APIs, organizations can build a robust cybersecurity mesh architecture that includes other security technologies. Fortinet’s Fabric-Ready Technology Alliance Partner is a community of technology partners offering more than 400 integrations, which allows customers to build a hybrid platform of integrated solutions that improve security effectiveness, reduce complexity, and simplify operations.
Building for the future
Networks are still relevant, even in cloud-centric environments. Organizations need converged networking and security to support both on-premises and in the cloud – and adapt to ongoing shifts in the workforce and threat landscape.
Achieving convergence requires moving away from a point-solution approach to one where everything, everywhere is secured through consistent policies and controls across the hybrid network. It also requires organizations to prioritize vendors and partners that invest in innovations that enable integrated security and networking solutions. That’s why Fortinet has delivered 1,255 patents — to help customers take a consolidated approach to secure their hybrid networks without sacrificing performance or protection.
Azim Makan is Regional VP Presales Security Expert for Canada at Fortinet