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We’re entering a world of new opportunities for network modernisation. The Covid-19 pandemic brought lasting change to the workplace globally. Hybrid and distributed working have changed the future of network architecture, security, and technology, irrevocably, forcing organisations to scale up and invest in new skills.
This investment has opened new doors and possibilities for organisations across the world. But with new possibilities come new risks - increasing concerns about the security of the network.
NTT’s recent Global Network Report reflects this. Respondents indicated that 89% of IT executives have operational concerns about running complex, intelligent networks while complying with security and regulatory requirements.
Network security is, as we all know, a major component of network architecture, but the way security is assured is changing. In the new era, distributed hybrid work models present far more attack opportunities for malicious actors, and organisations must adapt.
The importance of securing network assets in the age of hybrid
The agility, strength and security of the network are vital to business success. In fact, 97% of CIOs/CTOs believe that networks are key to enabling business growth-related outcomes. This is because agile and robust networks enable enterprises to adapt to change while increasing the maturity of their support environment.
With security vital to the integrity and performance of networks, it’s no surprise that data security is a top priority for executives in the next two years, ahead of cost management and operational complexity across cloud environments, and the sourcing of skills.
And looking after network strategy brings clear economic benefits to an organisation. According to NTT’s Global Network Report, 80% of the best-performing organisations (those reporting revenue growth of more than 10%) linked their network strategy to overall technology, security, and business strategies. This showcases that placing a business priority on investment in network security pays off.
But many organisations are yet to adapt or are struggling to complete modernisation drives as the economic outlook across the world becomes strained.
So, how can they begin to do so?
Cybersecurity mesh and the route to secure network modernisation
As the ‘attack surface’ of networks expands with the maturation of hybrid working, organisations must move to more centralised, cloud-based security solutions (such as secure access service edge (SASE)) and a managed endpoint security model, to protect network assets and lay the foundations for long-term success.
Cybersecurity mesh is another important tool in the arsenal of network leaders, ranking top on the seven IT trends driving network modernisation. We can think of cybersecurity mesh as a collaborative ecosystem of integrated tools used to secure distributed enterprises. Data and control planes are centralised in this model to enable more efficient and effective communication between different parts of the network. The benefits of cybersecurity mesh implementation include enhanced threat detection capabilities, quicker responses, consistent governance and policy management and granular access controls – all of which are fundamental pillars of a secure, distributed network.
The complexity of implementing such solutions across a distributed network can be daunting. Although more than 9 in 10 senior executives now claim to self-manage their network to some extent, 70% feel they lack the skill to operate a modern network and 8 in 10 will consider outsourcing parts of their network technology within the next two years.
Outsourcing can actually be highly beneficial in an uncertain economic climate – building capacity when demand fluctuates both up and down can leave certain infrastructure investments vulnerable to redundancy.
Finding the right partner
When organisations consider outsourcing to service providers, they are often looking for access to skilled resources for the management of modern technologies, improved security and best-practice expertise. In order to ensure they find this, they should:
Evaluate the capabilities of service providers. The right one should be able to manage both the current state of the network and its ongoing evolution, incorporating new network technology that includes improved security, analytics and AIOps. Such a partnership addresses a lack of in-house skills in this area and frees up time for in-house IT teams to concentrate on higher-value tasks.
Work with a service provider that takes a platform-based approach to technology management to overcome the siloed nature of individual tools in a multivendor network environment and provide an MSP AI aggregation layer that builds on vendor-specific AI capabilities in the network infrastructure.
Engage with a single vendor. In addition to minimising contract complexities, this eliminates the lack of interoperability between vendors and the need to maintain multiple software versions.
Once organisations find the right managed service partner, they can rest easy knowing they have the security measures, skills and experience required to develop their network for the future.
Working together to achieve network renewal
Collaboration will be key to the success of network modernisation in the years ahead. So will the adoption of automation and the orchestration needed to simplify the complexity of managing ever more intricate networks.
As the economic outlook continues to change, we will also see many organisations moving towards the Network as a Service model to consume and pay for what they need. This model will also allow access to the latest trends in technology – such as SASE and cybersecurity mesh – which will increase network security during the process of modernisation.
It is a very exciting time in network management. The opportunities seem endless, and with more and more organisations working together to secure network assets, there’s a real chance to build a platform for true long-term success.