Industry Trends

Service Provider Security in the Age of Digital Transformation

By Richard Orgias | May 15, 2017

Digital Transformation is Happening Now

Digital Transformation is a subject on the minds of CEOs everywhere as they seek to improve business results and align more closely with the needs and the expectations of their customers. And why not? Businesses large and small are adopting digital practices that a recent McKinsey study shows delivers, on average, five times more revenue and eight times more profitability than peer companies. The appeal of improved revenues, greater profitability, and higher levels of customer engagement underpins a shift that is seeing more companies evaluating and implementing digital strategies.

Transformation Affects Security Implementations

As a result of its impact on network design and use, transformation has profound effects on how security is implemented, and by extension, on the operations of the service providers that play a key role in enabling the new applications and business models that arise from the change. Think of the increased levels of traffic, users, and risk that accompany services like Uber or Netflix, or at a more basic level, the implications of increasing online access for customers of a utility, municipality, or financial institution. Service Providers are being forced to respond to the changing consumption patterns and evolving security needs of their customers.

The growing attack surface associated with digital transformation means greater exposure to threats, and requires more innovative tools to address. How do you effectively manage the growing diversity of threats, the disparate points of origin, and the multiplicity of targets? These are the types of questions that Fortinet is focused on addressing. Our approach is to enhance existing capabilities and add new critical functions and services to take advantage of better threat intelligence, greater integration, improved network design, and advances in automation. Innovations like the Fortinet Security Fabric provide capabilities that service providers can apply to evolving security environments.

Resource Scarcity Creates New Opportunities

At the same time as security is becoming more complex, enterprises are faced with a chronic shortage of skilled resources able to ensure that their network environments are adequately protected. This has led to increasing growth opportunities for Managed Security Service Providers, with traditional service providers in the vanguard of this business model. The need for security is clear, but more important for these service providers is the requirement for tools designed to meet the operational requirements of a business serving thousands of customers that can provide the granular levels of support and customization necessary to meet individual needs.  The right security solution should include innovations like flexible billing, automated provisioning, multi-tenant analytics, customer portals, and consulting services.

New Deployment Modes are required

Another aspect of digital transformation challenging security is available modes of deployment. As competition has increased, and the amount of data traffic and application grows – the need for more cost-effective ways to deploy security – the need for solutions capable of providing the level of agility and flexibility sought by digital transformers is elevated.  Many Service Providers have selected SDN and NFV based technologies that support the delivery of new services while reducing operational costs and time to provision. The impact on security will be felt throughout the network as virtual security implementations become more common. Some of the key requirements that must be satisfied to meet service provider needs include support for a range of security solution form factors – physical and virtual – as well as options for unified management and being able to assure a unified security posture. As networks become more complex, it is essential that continuity between security elements is preserved in order to maintain the integrity of traffic flowing across and between networks.

Openness is Key

Digital Transformation is also blurring the lines between networks, giving rising to the hybrid network architecture that is fast becoming the norm. An essential characteristic for the survival of this model is openness, and recent history indeed reflects a move toward openness and interoperability. Fortunately, as we move into this uncharted territory, organizations like the New IP Agency (NIA) and others are working to create solutions where multiple functions, including security, can be provisioned, deployed, and managed in a seamless way. This capability will be critical if the goal of delivering on-demand multivendor services across an intelligent network is to be realized. While a number of initiatives look promising, there is still some ways to go before this goal is realized.

Next Steps

Security is probably the most essential element that must be addressed for the promised benefits of digital transformation to be realized. As a service provider, your customers are counting on you to provide secure environments that will allow them to innovate and improve their business performance. As a member of the ecosystem that will make this happen, Fortinet is focused on innovations that provide Service Providers with the tools and functionality that ensure and enable effective security in every environment.

Do you have any thoughts on the key to successful application of security to Digital Transformation? Let us know what you think.

For more, meet with Fortinet (Booth B116) at The Big Communications Event where we will be sharing our views on strategies for securing service provider networks and participating in a New IP Agency (NIA) Live NFV Interoperability demo