by Stuart Hardy
If you haven’t already realised it, the network concepts that we have known for the last 20 years are dying. It’s a slow death, but an equally inevitable one.
The question is no longer whether the best option to deliver your business applications is in MPLS or SD WAN. The question is whether you need a WAN at all.
While the concept is still hard to imagine for many large organisations with legacy applications and infrastructure, once a company moves into the cloud completely, they will no longer have the need for a WAN.
Additionally, with traditional networking seeming to be slowly sliding into obscurity, there is another related industry that will evolve to take its place. That industry is security.
Already the hottest topic for most organisations, security is set to take on new roles in the networking space as organisations scramble to move to the cloud. These are roles you may not have expected, just as we never expected companies like Microsoft’s Azure to revolutionise the server space as rapidly as it did.
But it’s not just any security that will enable this new future. It is cloud security. Unencumbered by hardware and tightly integrated into private and public cloud networks, cloud security is best positioned to be the primary beneficiary of the loss of traditional networking. And in the same way that Azure has revolutionised the server industry, security products developed from the ground up in cloud are most likely going to disrupt the traditional appliance-based security industry which is struggling to shift from hardware to scalable cloud.
Diagram: A Cloud Application Network
So, what are the benefits of cloud security and how will it replace the WAN?
Currently, the largest cloud security providers are dominating the web security space, removing the need for appliance-based perimeter security, including firewalls, URL filtering, IDS, IPS, DLP, Sandbox, antivirus and DDOS. This not only reduces significant management overheads and physical appliances; it introduces a centrally orchestrated security policy server where organisations can manage security for thousands of sites in a single pane of glass.
For the most part, this has successfully dealt with securing web traffic and ensuring that the security policies you apply to your users and their devices are maintained inside and outside of the network. However, it hasn’t dealt directly with some of the other security and network requirements like remote VPN and private cloud until recently.
Today, cloud security provides something that will challenge the existence of WANs in that you can now extend your cloud-based security to replace the remote access VPN and VPN altogether. Termed “Private Access” by companies like Zscaler, companies are using cloud security to replace remote access VPN and to bypass the corporate network to get to private applications sitting in Azure and AWS.
Until now, branch or mobile users could only get to private cloud applications by going via the corporate network which adds latency and cost. But with cloud security enabling secure application access to any application from the cloud, application access speeds up and costs fall. It’s a compelling and powerful proposition.
Our view of security’s evolution is exciting and could mean the end of so many appliance-based technologies which are hard to manage and scale. Already, the leading cloud security products’ capabilities include bandwidth QOS and even application optimisation which have traditionally been the role of the network provider. So, companies can quite literally remove as many as 10 layers of technology and infrastructure in favour of cloud security.