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VG Tuesday Tips: 3 ways SD-WAN can help secure your industry’s digital transformation

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By Purvang Raval

Across verticals, organizations are experiencing sweeping technological changes.

While many businesses plan proactively for such disruptions and embrace such changes strategically, there will always be times when they get taken by surprise. The sudden and forceful digital transformation (DX) brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic remains a case in point.

In an effort to keep pace with the new normal, several businesses – notably those in healthcare, education, and retail – have embraced remote working and cloud-delivered digital business models, shifting their business workloads into multiple clouds and adopting SaaS applications to emerge more competitive and customer-centric.

As a result, IT leaders and CXOs at several companies are busy virtualizing data centers, corporate offices, and remote sites in order to adopt and grow the distributed enterprise model, which is the first requirement for a successful DX strategy.

However, as organizations implement these fundamental improvements, many find traditional networking architecture to be a major DX challenge. And with the traditional edge network disappearing rapidly – giving way to software-defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN) – traditional cybersecurity also warrants a rethink.

By leveraging SD-WAN solutions as part of an interconnected cybersecurity system, your organization can take full advantage of digital transformation and achieve cyber resilience for these changing times.

Here’s how your organization stands to benefit from a secure SD-WAN implementation:

1. Drive performance and improve traffic visibility to reap benefits beyond cost savings

In the early days of SD-WAN, arguments in favor of the technology largely focused on replacing MPLS networks to achieve operating and connectivity cost savings.

In fact, secure SD-WAN delivers a lot more than just a better bottom line. It helps better prioritize mission-critical business applications and maintains session quality for traffic for high-priority solutions such as Office 365 email, CRM, video, and VoIP/unified communications usage.

This is one area where XG Firewall and Sophos Synchronized Security provide an incredible advantage thanks to application visibility, routing, and quality-of-service for key applications.

Synchronized Application Control provides 100% visibility into networked applications, providing a significant advantage in identifying mission-critical applications across distributed networks. Synchronized SD-WAN, a Synchronized Security feature, leverages the added clarity and reliability of application identification that comes with the sharing of Synchronized Application Control information between Sophos-managed endpoints and XG Firewall.

2. Go multi-cloud

With secure SD-WAN, a digital enterprise can adopt a multi-cloud strategy to enhance application availability, performance, and end-user experience.

For example, educational institutions can keep pace with changing educational technologies and roll out rich training and learning resources over multiple clouds. Similarly, a healthcare organization can easily enable the use of new healthcare technologies and applications such as telehealth, cloud-based diagnostic solutions, and telemedicine.

While SD-WAN for a multi-cloud implementation has several industry use-cases, it needs to be noted that any DX initiative requires deploying the right cloud security. According to The State of Cloud Security 2020 survey, 70% of organizations fall victim to public cloud cybersecurity incidents, which includes ransomware, malware attacks, exposed data, compromised accounts, and cryptojacking attempts.

Although SD-WAN networking solutions offer some built-in security, a growing number of organizations are looking to integrate advanced SD-WAN security capabilities. This is where Sophos XG firewall offers a powerful, flexible network connectivity and security solution for every type of network – including public, private, and hybrid clouds for a geographically distributed SD-WAN scenario.

3. Make your network more agile

The biggest motivation driving most of the ongoing DX initiatives is building networks that can scale rapidly to meet the changing needs of an organization, which is why traditional hub-and-spoke model can’t work any longer. Many business no longer see the need for monolithic data centers and larger connectivity pipes to build a single nodal corporate network that enables remote sites and branch offices.

Instead, organizations are increasingly turning to cloud-native applications and deploying to multi-cloud environments such as Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform to make resources easily available to remote workers, branch offices, partners, and customers without having to backhaul the traffic to a centralized data center.

By abstracting software and virtual services from the underlying physical infrastructure, SD-WAN enables greater degrees of flexibility and automation, with reduced complexity to make necessary network changes. Sophos XG Firewall and SD-RED devices enable industries to connect remote offices, devices, and cloud resources easily and securely.

And the Sophos SD-WAN security solution facilitates zero-touch edge and branch connectivity, with secure VPN tunnels and enterprise-grade encryption to securely connect remote sites and branch office locations in a distributed network setup.

Conclusion

A highly flexible and extensible network infrastructure is vital to meet the demands of ongoing DX efforts – and to handle the business and customer needs of tomorrow. As more organizations prepare to take advantage of SD-WAN infrastructure, securing the new network, SaaS applications, and cloud workloads emerge as security priorities. Sophos is committed to enabling SD-WAN led digital transformation for its customers and continues to invest in SD-WAN security, orchestration, and connectivity capabilities.