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Seamlessly Connecting and Securing a Work-from-Anywhere World with ZTNA and SD-WANSeamlessly Connecting and Securing a Work-from-Anywhere World with ZTNA and SD-WAN

Zero-trust network access works with SD-WAN to make sure security follows data and applications.

Jon Bove

October 17, 2021

5 Min Read
network
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Fortinet's Jon Bove

Jon Bove

While the COVID-19 pandemic forced many businesses to rapidly enable remote work, the overall success of telework initiatives and the existing investments in making them possible means that, for many, this option is here to stay. Even as restrictions were lifted, many employees continued to work from home, either full time or part time.

The flexibility and autonomy provided by a work from anywhere model make it extremely attractive to workers, making it a must-have for many organizations to maintain and attract the best talent. Of course, this model relies on a much more distributed network edge and the ability for individuals both inside and outside of the corporate network to access applications on-site and in the cloud.

To ensure business continuity, regardless of where employees are located, users must be able to gain access to the tools and resources they need without encountering bottlenecks or significant latency, all while keeping security a top priority in an ever-evolving threat landscape. For partners, this presents an opportunity to offer their customers SD-WAN with ZTNA capabilities, which are crucial for addressing these issues.

The Role of SD-WAN in the Modern Workforce

The primary role of SD-WAN is to support the user experience. A good SD-WAN solution minimizes problems associated with latency, jitters and packet loss. It also provides more dynamic application steering based on SLA from branch offices and home networks alike, regardless of whether those applications are hosted on-premises or in the cloud.

A 2020 IDG Research Services report indicates that SD-WAN adoption grew from 35% to 54% between 2017 and 2019, with more expected in the coming years, making it one of the most rapidly adopted technologies in the last decade. And now, with organizations using SD-WAN to support working from anywhere instead of traditional branch offices, ensuring this technology is used in a way that promotes functionality while maintaining security is vital.

Many traditional SD-WAN solutions come with little, if any, security. This is obviously a problem in a work from anywhere world where SD-WAN is used for remote access to applications that store, transmit and process sensitive information. Threat protection must be embedded in any SD-WAN solution in such a way that doesn’t impact performance – otherwise, users will find workarounds that may compromise security.

Most SD-WAN vendors don’t offer solutions with enterprise-grade security. And what is available is often very basic and may not be able to keep up, leaving easily exploitable gaps. With this in mind, partners must offer their customers a security solution that is fully integrated and robust, with policies and protocols communicated among different network environments, ensuring consistent enforcement and avoiding performance-killing security bottlenecks.

Enabling Maximum Security with Zero Trust Network Access

As the old network perimeter breaks down, zero trust network access (ZTNA) steps in. In fact, a key element of ZTNA is the location independence of the user. ZTNA enables secure access to applications regardless of whether the user or application is inside or outside the corporate network. Users may be on the corporate network, working from home, or traveling on the other side of the globe. Similarly, applications may be on-premises, in a private cloud or on the public internet.

Due to these capabilities, ZTNA can offer customers better security, control and user experience compared to older VPN technology. The traditional VPN relied on a secure network perimeter, with everything inside the perimeter being trusted and everything outside only able to gain access through a secure VPN tunnel. In contrast, ZTNA assumes no user or device can be trusted until proven otherwise, essentially providing security at every single instance of a user accessing an application.

With ZTNA, verification and application access are the same for all users. ZTNA can also simplify management by enabling easy configuration and enforcement of role-based access control. User-friendly ZTNA solutions include a secure, automated encrypted tunnel that allows instantaneous connection between the user device and the ZTNA application proxy point as soon as that access is requested.

Integration of Security and Networking Is Key

As their customers embrace the work from anywhere model, partners must ensure their security follows data and applications from end to end. Moreover, any viable security solution must keep up and adapt readily to underlying network changes to avoid leaving gaps or negatively impacting user experience or functionality. This is only possible if security and networking function as a unified system.

Security requires visibility and control with centralized orchestration to remain manageable. Point solutions from multiple vendors make this impossible, especially as networks become more distributed and access from anywhere becomes more common. A viable security solution is one in which actionable intelligence is shared across the entire network and threat response functions as part of a coordinated system. By prioritizing the use of an integrated platform that features crucial elements, such as SD-WAN and zero trust network access, partners will guarantee robust security for their customers that outperforms stitched-together point solutions every time, especially when those platforms enable automation and policy consistency.

Jon Bove is the vice president of channel sales at Fortinet. He and his team are responsible for strategizing, promoting and driving the channel sales strategy for partners in the United States. A 17-year veteran of the technology industry, Bove has held progressively responsible sales, sales leadership and channel leadership positions. Follow @Fortinet on Twitter or Bove on LinkedIn.

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About the Author(s)

Jon Bove

VP, Americas Channels, Fortinet

Jon Bove is the vice president of channel sales at Fortinet. He and his team are responsible for strategizing, promoting and driving the channel sales strategy for partners in the U.S. A 17-year veteran of the technology industry, Bove has held progressively responsible sales, sales leadership and channel leadership positions. Follow @Fortinet on Twitter or Bove on LinkedIn.

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