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Key Benefits of Secure SD-WAN for Enterprise Customers

By Fortinet | September 02, 2020

This is a summary of an article written for MSPinsights by Jon Bove, VP of Channel Sales at Fortinet. The entire article can be accessed here

Enterprise customers have long relied on wide-area networks (WANs) to support multi-locale business communications. But as the adoption of cloud-based services, SaaS applications, and BYOD increases, traditional WAN performance has struggled to keep up with their rising bandwidth requirements. Meanwhile, today’s digital businesses require not just flexibility but also meshed interoperability between users, applications, and devices, something that most static WANs cannot provide.

It is factors such as these that have led organizations to adopt software-defined wide-area network (SD-WAN) solutions that can adapt to the new networking requirements brought on by digital transformation. Offering more agility, responsiveness, and cost-effectiveness for enterprise customers; SD-WAN improves application performance for highly-trafficked networks. When properly chosen and deployed, SD-WAN can also provide complementary sets of integrated security tools that both support and enhance these new digital transformation requirements. 

Such capabilities include:

  • Real-time measurement of WAN bandwidth 
  • Unified communication applications through WAN link remediation
  • Overlay cloud orchestration for improved management
  • Aggregated overlay bandwidth sharing between multiple connections for decreased latency and enhanced performance
  • Improved application performance and user experience through high-speed application recognition
  • A full stack of security solutions designed to provide complete coverage for all connections and traffic

Why Organizations Need Secure SD-WAN

SD-WAN is a cost-effective alternative to WAN infrastructure that improves speed and branch uptime through public network broadband. That said, when it comes to securing SD-WAN, for example, many IT leaders struggle with the cost and complexity associated with developing, deploying, and maintaining an overlay solution. The reason this happens is because most SD-WAN vendors provide little to no security as part of their solution. As a result, customers have to apply security as an afterthought. And trying to do that when there are high volumes of critical data involved is less than ideal, as rapid changes in things like connectivity and application usage require security and networking to be fully integrated at all times. SD-WANs, therefore, need to incorporate not just advanced security tools like behavioral analytics and sandboxing, but also essential tools like application security, intrusion prevention systems (IPS), and next-generation firewalls (NGFWs).

Single appliances, where all networking, connectivity, and security functionality are fully integrated into a single, coherent system, are always going to be much more efficient than disparate solutions that work to serve individual purposes. This means that security must be deployed not as an isolated overlay but as an integrated feature that makes it easy to protect constantly changing network functions like bandwidth sharing and link error corrections. At the same time, an integrated approach also ensures that performance is not compromised even when it comes to processor-intensive activities such as deep inspection of complex VPN connection overlays.

How Secure SD-WAN Helps Solve Networking and Security Challenges

Deploying a smartly-integrated solution that addresses both customer networking and security challenges help organizations realize a range of benefits, including:  

Cost reductions: Being cost-effective is an essential goal for most organizations. This can be achieved by replacing low-bandwidth, high-cost WANs with high-bandwidth, low-cost broadband connections. With an integrated solution, IT teams can create and automate site-to-site VPNs that form a meshed interconnected overlay between branch offices, the cloud, and corporate data centers. Additionally, they can ensure consistent, policy-based enforcement and protection across the distributed network, and even inspect traffic between offices as well as all application traffic in real time ­– a positive shift away from the deployment of isolated security practices.

Reduced complexity: When security and networking are managed through a single interface, organizations will avoid the complexities often associated with WAN management, configuration, and orchestration. This single-pane-of-glass view will not only help to improve control and visibility, but it will also lessen the amount of time needed to provision leased lines and MPLS and then implement an effective security strategy. With faster recognition of locations, customers will also be able to quickly troubleshoot challenges with ease.  

Centralized management: With an integrated SD-WAN solution in place, enterprise customers can enjoy zero-touch provisioning and centralized management capabilities that span the entire SD-WAN deployment, from configurations to connectivity to security. By having the ability to manage and orchestrate a unified security solution across multiple branch locations, cloud environments, and devices, IT teams can ensure automated control of branch office WAN connectivity. At the same time, customers will achieve single-pane-of-glass visibility across their distributed organizations, spanning all users and applications to identify potential threats. 

Improved performance: One survey found that enterprise organizations that deploy SD-WAN use 50% more bandwidth than those that depend on traditional WAN connections. This bandwidth provides more effective application accessibility, more robust workflow support, and enhanced productivity, resulting in a distinct competitive advantage for these organizations. And as these bandwidth needs grow, an integrated SD-WAN solution can enable customers to dynamically scale bandwidth capacity based on their specific requirements through the use of advanced networking functionality. Through this practice, customers can tick all the boxes for high-application performance without leaving gaps in security or having to play catch up to protect their networks. 

Top of the line security: An integrated security portfolio that features advanced networking functionalities and a single-pane-of-glass view enable organizations to achieve full visibility across all of their enterprise locations. By deploying enterprise-grade security with consolidated networking functionality, comprehensive SSL inspection, and dynamic VPN tunneling at branch locations, customers will be able to attain their digital transformation goals without compromising on security. 

Final Thoughts on Secure SD-WAN

Your customers can accomplish much more with Secure SD-WAN capabilities than with a traditional SD-WAN solution. Secure SD-WAN provides users with direct connectivity to enterprise branches while reducing WAN costs, thereby simplifying their infrastructures and achieving higher performance. By leveraging an integrated Secure SD-WAN solution, enterprise customers can easily manage internet connectivity and performance while simultaneously eliminating the costs associated with implementing separate security solutions as an overlay for an unsecured SD-WAN.

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.

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