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Interview with Fortinet’s Rajesh Maurya

June 03, 2019
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Digital transformation of traditional branch networks offers several advantages for distributed enterprises. Many organisations are switching from performance-inhibited wide-area networks (WANs) to software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) architectures that offer faster connectivity, cost savings, and other benefits. Rajesh Maurya, Regional Vice President, India & SAARC at Fortinet shares his expertise on the challenges and potential of SD-WAN market in India....

What are the market drivers for the adoption of SD-WAN in India?

Digital transformation is forcing business leaders to evaluate the costs, capabilities, and risks of their extended network architectures. Traditional WANs utilize private multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) links, which carry a premium price for connectivity. But more important than cost, there is also productivity to consider as traditional WAN funnels branch network traffic back to the organization’s main data center for filtering and security checks greatly slowing down the network performance.

The demands of DX only compound branch traffic burdens as companies are expanding their use of Software-asa-Service (SaaS) applications—as well other cloud-based tools like Voice-over-IP (VoIP) and videoconferencing technologies. Voice and video place a great deal of demand on network resources, especially considering enterprise user expectations for very highquality performance from these kinds of services. SD-WAN solves the aforementioned problems of bandwidth costs and traffic latency, allowing organizations to move beyond MPLS to include public broadband connections - e.g., 4G/LTE and 5G. SD-WAN routes network traffic from branches to the cloud, headquarters, or other branches by enabling direct access to cloud applications and services. This makes SD-WAN a very popular choice for transforming enterprises.

What are the challenges that networks face while transiting to SD-WAN?

SD-WAN offers inherently faster and cheaper connectivity than traditional WANs, but despite its transformative capabilities for branch networks, several challenges must be addressed to fully articulate and actualize SD-WAN’s potential.

Lack of visibility: SD-WAN solutions typically lack visibility into applications at the branch level. This can lead to Shadow IT problems, including SaaS applications with unauthorized applications introducing security or compliance risks.Then there is bandwidth limitations from branch users wasting bandwidth on nonessential applications like Pandora or YouTube.

Complexity: In addition to the other types of complexity that DX technologies introduce, SD-WAN architectures can be difficult to troubleshoot and hard to manage across all the branches. Most solutions do not offer a single management interface for consolidated network oversight and control across all of the enterprise’s remote locations. This adds to the burden on limited IT staff and often creates defensive gaps for threats to exploit.

Security: Without the centralized protection provided by backhauling traffic through the data center, moving from MPLS to direct internet broadband connections exposes organizations to new risks—especially considering that cyberattacks are growing in both number and sophistication. Effective SD-WAN implementation requires additional security within the enterprise infrastructure to secure those connections and inspect high volumes of traffic—all without inhibiting network performance.

To address these challenges, one approach to effective SD-WAN implementation combines both networking and security functions in a unified solution

Can you highlight the core SD-WAN Benefits to a business as a use case?

Many enterprise branches want to simultaneously replace both their WAN and LAN devices in favour of a solution with deeper integration and simplified branch operations management. Using separate WAN and LAN infrastructures not only increases branch complexity as there are more devices to deploy and update with multiple management consoles. It also reduces visibility and control of operations while increasing the opportunities for security gaps that hackers can exploit. A software-defined branch model eliminates these challenges by unifying WAN and LAN operations within a single solution

We also are seeing distributed enterprises with multiple offices looking for effective adoption of critical SaaS applications and other multi-cloud services for improved operational efficiency and cost savings across their extended workforce. Because of the limits of MPLS connectivity and traffic backhauling, most traditional WAN infrastructures cannot effectively handle the added network strain that cloud-based services introduce. Problems include low bandwidth, limited visibility and control, poor user experience, and increased latency. SD-WAN’s ability to perform intelligent load sharing of traffic across multiple broadband connections for greater network efficiency, dynamic operation, and cost savings can alleviate these problems.

Do you think securing SD-WAN is underestimated?

Unfortunately, of the over sixty SD-WAN vendors on the market today, only a handful provide anything beyond the most basic security. Instead, they rely on organizations to figure out how to leverage their existing security solutions into their SD-WAN tools.

Compounding the problem majority of security devices and solutions deployed by organizations were never designed to support the unique and highly dynamic requirements of today's branch offices. The visibility is limited, can't track data that moves between network domains, and these solutions can't share and correlate threat intelligence to identify and stop today's advanced attacks.

Additionally, the project-oriented approach to network expansion that customers often take means that when they add new capabilities, they have also introduced new siloed point security products in order to protect them. This sort of expanding security complexity makes overall security maintenance and management increasingly difficult.

In order to properly secure their networks, customers need SD-WAN solutions that not only provide advanced networking capabilities and performance, but that also include integrated and automated threat tracking, analysis, and mitigation that can move at machine speeds, are designed to operate effectively within that SD-WAN environment, and at the same time can be seamlessly integrated with their core security infrastructure.

Deploying and managing multivendor solutions and integrating the network is a nightmare how can Fortinet help in rethinking SD-WAN Standards?

Fortinet is committed to providing businesses and organizations with the security capabilities needed to combat modern cyberthreats while allowing for efficient digital transformation efforts. Our SD-WAN solutions bring a comprehensive array of next-generation capabilities to customers, our SD-WANs incorporate an application control database that stays current even as the modern threat landscape, and customers’ digital networks, evolve. Receiving ongoing updates from our FortiGuard threat intelligence services customers can identify and classify new applications—including encrypted and cloud app traffic—thereby enabling more efficient routing as well as real-time threat protection.

Having the ability to collect granular WAN path data is critical to ensuring optimal business-critical traffic. With this in mind, our solutions make it easier to provide with the optimal link for any given application by leveraging the advanced networking capabilities built into our FortiOS 6.0 operating system.

Our solutions allow to ship unconfigured products to customers across their branches or organization. When they are plugged in, FortiGate automatically connects to our FortiDeploy service, authenticates and connects the device to the FortiManager system within seconds, and receives remote configuration instructions for seamless self-deployment.

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