Find out what APAC CIOs and leaders are adopting to maximize business resilience while keeping an eagle eye on cybersecurity.

As hybrid work, rushed digitalization and increased adoption of connectivity technologies such as IoT place the network at the forefront of today’s corporate infrastructure, a virtual tug-of-war is surfacing: how can enterprises achieve faster, connectivity across multi-distributed networks amid raging cyber threats and mandates for business/connectivity resilience?

As CIOs focus their time and expertise on security management this year, network providers are rushing to innovate flexible solutions to address the demand for greater network agility and security, according to Jon Green, Chief Security Officer, Aruba Networks.

In conversation with he sees the complexities of managing several push and pull factors amid CIOs’ mission to boost operational agility and flexibility while minimizing cybersecurity risks, and how Asia Pacific region (APAC) leaders are turning to leading-edge Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) solutions to support the highly distributed enterprise in the pandemic era.  

DigiconAsia: Why is there a network security conundrum’ and how can enterprises overcome this persistent challenge? 

Jon Green (JG): In the last 24 months the majority, if not all, of firms have embraced and deployed some new form of technology: from using multiple cloud providers to network systems.

Trends like hybrid work and adoption of IoT devices have placed the network at the forefront of today’s digital acceleration. According to IDC, in 2022, 50% of organizations in APAC are expected to prioritize connectivity resilience to ensure business continuity.

However, these technologies are often siloed and distributed, and IT teams that work in silos are left to face the challenges of having a distributed network. The biggest challenge businesses face is maintaining consistent visibility, management, and security across the distributed network environment.

Considering that rushed digitalization during the pandemic has created more IT complexity than ever experienced, maintaining the network has become more costly, time-consuming and resource intensive. At the same time, surveys show that only 20% of businesses are confident that their security infrastructure is well prepared to handle today’s changing threat landscape.

As such, security continues to be a top concern for businesses, with many planning to deploy security infrastructures such as Zero Trust and the Secure Access Service Edge (SASE). Between improving connectivity speed and connectivity security, user expectations are high, and businesses need to focus their time on providing flexible solutions that not only address the demand for network agility but provide security management as well. The industry needs to respond by modernizing operations and management solutions with a ‘single pane of glass’ concept of network management that is able to not only reduce IT complexity but to provide a way of unifying security management across business networks.

Jon Green, Chief Security Officer, Aruba Networks

DigiconAsia: As corporate network perimeters widen (or disappear), why is the role of NaaS in delivering a modernized network more relevant? What other alternatives are there?

JG: When it comes to network management goals, businesses are prioritizing the need to scale quickly, as well as to align their network and business needs.

Aruba’s data shows that 77% of firms surveyed in APAC were interested in NaaS due to the added flexibility to scale their network based on business needs: some 84% even saw NaaS as a potential game changer in how could improve their business management.

The NaaS model is able to deliver a modernized network as it provides flexibility, simplicity and transparency as corporate network perimeters widen and evolve, but it does so with financial flexibility.

When endowed with AI and ML, NaaS solutions can optimize worker performance and reduce IT staff workloads to focus on business-enabling tasks rather than maintaining network up-time. However, ML/AI is not inexpensive if one needs to purchase the required storage and processing capability, and that expense has often led businesses to compromise on their network solution—for example, by purchasing prosumer-level equipment rather than enterprise-grade gear.

Also, in today’s market, skilled network engineers can also be difficult to hire. As an alternative to develop a customized investment model suited to their business needs depending on industry and greater flexibility, enterprises can also look into managed services as an alternative. Such services not only help lighten the day-to-day management tasks that dominate 70% of IT teams’ workloads but allow businesses to focus on strategic activities for their business. In recognizing the above challenges and solutions, businesses can now see the importance of building a customizable, unified, agile and secure corporate network: one that would combine AIOps, Zero Trust Security, and a unified infrastructure via a managed services platform. 

DigiconAsia: What are the best approaches in enhancing the security posture for the modern work era?

JG: Increasingly, hybrid working is becoming a permanent fixture as access to corporate data transcends traditional workplace perimeters, and cybercriminals are looking for new ways to exploit security vulnerabilities in and outside the corporate network.

Businesses will thus require a holistic, end-to-end approach to ensure security and compliance are addressed from the edge. This model will enforce zero trust best practices, including strong authentication, access control and proper segmentation resulting to faster detection and proactive response against any threats.

The SASE is a model that addresses the needs for increased network security by integrating SD-WAN capabilities with cloud-based security services to deliver a unified threat and data protection capability that not only addresses the challenges of digital transformation but edge computing, and workforce mobility. This makes it possible for businesses to implement a comprehensive and intelligent security model to defend their networks across different multi-cloud environments, regardless of the physical location of users or devices being used to access them. 

While SASE provides businesses with flexible deployment and consumption models to secure their network, there is a better way to manage networks and address business needs beyond just security management.

Through a combination of a single-pane-of glass, AIOps and unified security, businesses can have the tools to not only address their security concerns but reduce IT complexity to provide greater flexibility and faster connectivity for their corporate network. 

DigiconAsia thanks Jon for sharing his insights on tackling the network security conundrum.