Industry Trends

Why Your Industry Can Benefit From Secure SD-WAN Too

By Nirav Shah | August 18, 2020

SD-WAN has been one of the most rapidly adopted technologies of the past decade, with the market expected to increase by 168% between now and 2024. The earliest adopters of SD-WAN were retailers, and for good reason. Retail chains have a critical need to maintain cohesive connectivity across all locations to manage inventory, monitor on-site devices such as refrigeration units or POS units, and collect and correlate sales data in real time. And because margins can be thin in the retail sector, this all needs to be done as efficiently and as cost effectively as possible. SD-WAN is the perfect solution.

But retailers are not the only organizations who benefit from the advantages of an SD-WAN strategy. Large enterprises with numerous branch and satellite offices are realizing significant savings by replacing their existing WAN solution branch with an integrated Secure SD-WAN device. SD-WAN solves several challenges at the same time, including rapid deployment, fast connectivity to cloud applications and resources, and unified management to reduce IT overhead. It also enables organizations to add more bandwidth to inexpensively, while providing users with direct and high-quality access to internet-based resources.

Of course, rapid access to online services also exposes organizations to incoming attacks from the internet. By selecting an SD-WAN solution with integrated security, they not only get ease of deployment and accelerated access to critical business applications, but they can apply a full stack of security on-site designed to see and protect all branch connections, whether out to the cloud, back to the core data center, or directly to the internet.

Here are several industries that can benefit from the power and protection offered by a Secure SD-WAN solution:

Secure SD-WAN Reduces Costs and Manages Traffic Flows for Manufacturing and OT Networks

In the manufacturing world, SD-WAN is an excellent solution for reducing overall networking costs and managing traffic flows. However, the security implications of direct access to cloud and internet resources can potentially have an even greater impact in an OT environment than they would in a typical SD-WAN deployment. As IT and OT networks converge, for example, the OT environment is no longer protected by the air gap of the past, leaving critical Industrial Control Systems vulnerable to malicious actors trying to access them from the IT side of the house.

Preventing attacks while accelerating traffic flows and communications not only ensures that production performs at an optimal pace, it also protects the safety and reliability of the plant and its workers. Most traditional SD-WAN offerings are adequate at providing mechanisms to determine the best path, route the traffic, and prioritize higher-value traffic over lesser flows. However, when an SD-WAN solution is based entirely on the routing technology, security becomes an expensive afterthought—expensive to purchase, expensive to deploy, and expensive to manage.

Secure SD-WAN is an ideal solution for a manufacturing environment or OT network because advanced traffic control is integrated with security features like next generation firewall (NGFW), advanced threat protection, application inspection, IPS, URL filtering, and botnet protection. For those industries that rely on OT, Secure SD-WAN not only provides an extra level of security beyond what may already exist in an IT/OT gateway, but weaves them together into a single, integrated solution. A truly secure SD-WAN solution will not only provide WAN savings, it will also furnish a single cybersecurity approach that reduces complexity, extends needed visibility and control deep into the OT network, and prevents the exploitation of OT system vulnerabilities that can lead to costly production downtime.

Providing Financial Services With Enhanced Performance With Secure SD-WAN

By applying a Security-Driven Networking approach to SD-WAN, which combines networking and security in a single appliance, Secure SD-WAN provides financial services organizations with the high-speed application performance they need to compete effectively in today’s digital marketplace, combined with built-in next-generation firewall functionality to maintain the integrity of transactions and back-end intellectual property.

This scalable, easy-to-manage approach provides financial services organizations with high-speed access to cloud and internet-based resources and applications, while securing those transactions that need to travel across multiple connections between branches and headquarters.

A Secure SD-WAN solution provides numerous advantages to financial institutions.

  • Single pane of glass management provides centralized control and reporting to ensure regulatory compliance, while zero-touch deployment allows FS organizations to easily deploy Secure SD-WAN at their branch locations. This reduces the need for additional IT staff, while improving visibility and control across the entire network infrastructure.
  • Accelerated application performance is essential in micro-second transaction environments. Application steering intelligently identifies applications, determines the optimal path for an enhanced application experience, and continuously monitors those connections to make adjustments when performance degrades.
  • Integrated NGFW functionality, including deep SSL inspection capabilities, ensures transactional integrity without compromising on performance.

Ensuring High-Bandwidth Connections in the Healthcare Industry With Secure SD-WAN

According to one recent study, researchers found that the current pandemic is reshaping the delivery of healthcare through the adoption of new services such as telemedicine. They forecast a sevenfold growth in telehealth between now and 2025, with a predicted five-year compound annual growth rate of nearly 40%. This will include things like providing remote exams via video, combined with user-friendly sensors and remote diagnostic equipment, to enable better patient outcomes. And as AI and robotics come into play, reliable, high-speed connections will only become increasingly important.

Secure SD-WAN stands to play a critical role in this industry as well. It can ensure high-bandwidth connections to support real-time video and diagnostics information to pass between patients and healthcare providers. This will not only enable quality healthcare to be extended to remote locations, but also ensure that patients receive the care they need without exposing them to undue health risks. And at the same time, data and transactions can be reliably secured, ensuring compliance with regulations governing the privacy of medical records and patient PII. And the efficiencies provided by SD-WAN also help ensure that these new services can be provided without the usual skyrocketing costs associated with healthcare services.

SD-WAN For All

SD-WAN is far more than simply an effective solution for today’s retailers. Given the rapid rate of change impacting industries from manufacturing to healthcare, it stands to play an increasingly critical role for any organization looking to provide advanced connectivity to remote users and locations. And with the addition of integrated security, Secure SD-WAN can ensure that all transactions, in even the most dynamic environments, remain safe from growing cyber risks.

Take a security-driven approach to networking to improve user experience and simplify operations at the WAN edge with Fortinet’s Secure SD-WAN solution.

Read these customer case studies to see how De Heus and Burger King Brazil implemented Fortinet’s Secure SD-WAN to alleviate network complexity, increase bandwidth, and reduce security costs.