The COVID-19 pandemic has compelled companies to rethink and realign their business strategies. Digital adoption and transformation are not new concepts; companies have been trying to adopt digital technologies in order to scale their businesses for nearly two decades now. However, the pandemic has brought into focus the critical need for companies to be resilient, agile, and secure.
2020, hence, became the year of accelerated digital transformation, with companies now reevaluating their strategies for an end-to-end digital overhaul. A survey by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) among more than 5,000 respondents indicated that over 80% felt digital was helping them get through the economic slowdown resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the survey also pointed that 65% of the companies expected to increase their investments in digital transformation in the future.
The key learning from the pandemic is that digitally mature companies demonstrate growth and resilience by focusing on technological investments. The 2021, Deloitte Digital Transformation Executive Survey revealed that the digitally mature ones (50% of the survey respondents) were able to improve profit margins and annual revenues as compared to companies lower on the digital maturity curve. Less mature companies were restrained by legacy systems and the resultant inability to enhance their customer offerings.
At the crux of this digital transformation is the cloud. Cloud offers the flexibility, speed, and the ability to experiment with reduced risk, in an attempt to make digital transformation more successful. However, simply moving legacy applications to the cloud will not enable digital transformation. Cloud adoption has to be an integral part of the overall digital transformation strategy and journey. A company’s digital transformation journey traverses different phases including goal setting, planning, executing, and managing risks, with the cloud playing a key role in anchoring this journey.
Efficient and effective networks - The bloodline of digital acceleration
The increase in remote working necessitated by the pandemic puts tremendous stress on companies to ensure robust networking technologies, including adequate security measures. It is estimated that nearly a quarter of the global workforce will be working from home at least for some days in the week by the end of 2021 alone, and these numbers are expected to increase further in the next few years. To meet these growing demands of companies, networks must cater to both multicloud and digital strategies. Resilient networks are, therefore, the bloodlines of the digital transformation initiatives across companies today, and network modernization is a critical element in accelerating the transformation efforts.
Agility remains a key criterion for the network’s capability to rise to the challenges of the new normal. In this scenario, legacy networks are just not up to the task. Companies need to identify areas of automation, underpinned by software defined networks and better security.
SD WAN – Accelerate the journey, but don’t neglect security
While cloud adoption entails moving applications to single or multiple cloud platforms, users are distributed across the globe. It is therefore imperative for the public cloud to have a secure, application aware, intent-based network. The growing adoption of the public cloud has placed software defined wide area network (SD WAN) firmly in the spotlight.
SD WAN is the integration of multiple wide area network (WAN) tools and products bundled with a single pane of glass management. It is a software-based approach to building and managing networks that connect geographically dispersed offices with software defined networking (SDN) principle of separating the control plane and data plane for the WAN.
Companies leverage SD WAN to securely connect branch offices to their corporate networks using the internet or technologies like 4G/5G that connect from anywhere. This replaces the need for traditional and expensive multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) connections, dedicated firewalls physically at the branch, or proprietary hardware.
However, the challenge is that SD WAN uses a networking overlay or an SD WAN fabric that doesn’t include complete security and access control that companies need to protect and defend their network in a cloud environment. The security still relies on the legacy model of packet routing, forcing it to fit the cloud ready enterprise. This results in manual intensive security operations, which create substantial administrative overhead for networking and security operations teams. In addition, delivery of essential branch services such as security is inconsistent, further adding to cost and complexity across a company, making SD WAN a less than compelling proposition.
Secure access service edge (SASE) – The future of SD WAN and security
Cloud adoption, infrastructure automation, and the availability of cost-effective, high performance WAN connectivity, such as broadband and 4G/5G are the three key pillars fundamental to transformation. As companies deploy cloud and other new age technologies, they gather vast amounts of data, all of which is stored across data centers, public and private clouds, software as a service (SaaS) applications, mobile devices, and many more. However, placing the right security controls for their data, the right access controls for their applications, and configuring the right tools is a challenge. To combat these concerns, companies often use multiple point products to secure web gateways, support application firewalls, and secure virtual private network (VPN) remote access. However, since these products have their own policy management protocols, interfaces, and logs, administrative challenges, in addition to increased costs and complexity, threaten the companies’ security posture.
Traditional network approaches and technologies can no longer provide the levels of security and access control required by modern digital companies. This is where secure access service edge (SASE) comes in.
A SASE solution provides mobile users, branch offices, and other locations with secure connectivity and consistent security across the globe. It offers companies a single, centralized view of their entire network, enabling them to easily identify and track users, devices, and endpoints, applying their networking access and security policies.
SASE ensures multi branch and multi cloud network security while connecting users to their applications and data in a cloud environment securely. The shift to migrating data and applications to the cloud provides clear organizational benefits such as lower costs, improved performance, and enhanced agility, but it also presents a set of unique challenges.
Legacy architectures with complex and costly security ecosystems limit the visibility of threats and slow down the business. SASE is a model that provides the right path for companies to modernize their enterprise for security, speed, growth, and cost reductions.
Wipro’s managed SASE in partnership with Palo Alto Networks
Wipro’s SD WAN managed offering, #WANFreedom, is powered by Palo Alto Networks Prisma® SD-WAN. Prisma SD WAN is the industry’s first next generation SD WAN solution that makes the secure cloud delivered branch possible, delivering a return on investment (ROI) of up to 243%. It ensures exceptional user experience with app defined policies, simplifying network, and security operations using machine learning and automation.
Palo Alto Networks Prisma Access, a complete cloud delivered security platform that protects all application traffic for companies to safely facilitate secure remote workforces, is seamlessly integrated with Prisma SD WAN. This integration enables companies to transform their networking and security infrastructure while realizing market-leading ROI. This SASE solution combines a global high performance network with the next gen SD WAN to simplify the delivery of consistent security at scale while ensuring optimal work from anywhere experience.
Wipro and Palo Alto Networks have combined forces to define a managed service delivered through #WANFreedom and secure Internet access services, to enable companies to embrace digital transformation and deliver cybersecurity success with SASE.
Connecting safer and better
Digital transformation, fueled by the cloud and new disruptive technologies, has forever transformed the way companies work. Networks and network security must evolve at the same pace. SASE has brought about the convergence between network and security capabilities, simplifying the adoption of the cloud and the next normal of remote working. Solutions such as SASE become a powerful tool for companies moving forward as workers and networks will be widely distributed, ensuring both agility and security for the company.
To know more about Wipro’s partnership with Palo Alto Networks in delivering SASE, please click here
About the Author
General Manager and Global Head for Wipro Network and Infra Security Practice
Apurba has over two decades of IT experience, helping customers across the globe in transformation solutions. He has managed business units – P&L, Sales, Delivery -- working with ecosystem partners to modernize the core and help enterprises create digital foundations. In his current role, he works closely with internal and external stakeholders, advisors and analysts, and helps customers fast-track to future by adopting different commercial models (As a Service), innovative solutions, IPs, and network /security platforms.