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The ability to detect and remediate cyber attacks pose an existential threat to IT organizations worldwide. A study from IBM and Ponemon found that companies that detect and contain data breaches within 30 days save, on average, more than $1 million compared to organizations that take longer to respond.
Managing the Network Edge is vital to secure and protect these critical corporate assets, ensure network performance, identify systemic anomalies and identify insider/outsider cyber threats. This applies to banking, healthcare, telecom, brick-and-mortar retail as well as water/energy utilities.
To begin, let’s review what is defined as the Network Edge. The Network Edge is the specific boundary of WAN to LAN connectivity and ownership in a network. The Edge protects the critical assets of a corporation and is typically the demarcation point of local connectivity to wider Internet connectivity. This is different from Edge computing which is an industry directive to decentralize traditional data centers and bring compute resources closer to where they will be consumed. This blog series will touch on Edge compute monitoring in a later segment.
The edge of the network is quickly evolving as companies manage decentralized workforces and migrate to hybrid public/private cloud environments. The Network Edge is the critical location to monitor/protect data transfer and identify threats. With the right security and monitoring infrastructure, organizations can safely mitigate threats across a more mobile workforce, increasing the number of IoT devices, remote network locations and hybrid clouds.
Monitoring the Network Edge can vastly improve performance, response times, and bandwidth across your organization, which ultimately helps organizations deliver more innovative end user experiences. Securing the Network Edge is a parallel effort that entails safely accessing remote workloads, identifying inbound cyber threats, monitoring network vulnerabilities and encrypting/decrypting critical communications. The good news is both of these initiatives can be integrated with a properly architected monitoring and security implementation and toolset.
But how exactly does it work? As Network Edge and datacenter design are both quickly evolving away from traditional architectures, it’s important to understand key components to address challenges and monitoring/security options.
Regardless of your industry, architecting for effective edge monitoring introduces a wide variety of moving parts— many of which are physically (and virtually) deployed outside of the enterprise data center. There are remote users and IoT devices to account for resulting in an array of additional challenges. When you’re starting to think about the network edge, there are key components that you’ll need to include in your design:
The right network design and combination of inline/out-of-band tool placement will enhance network edge monitoring and security. The result will be optimal network performance, minimal latency to end devices, quality of experience for key services and best in class security monitoring.
According to IBM estimates, the approximately 15 billion connected edge devices deployed today will grow to 55 billion by 2022. The explosive growth of connected devices at the edge means management of hundreds, thousands, or even millions of new endpoints in the coming years. Combined with network transformations to hybrid cloud and software defined networking (SDN), traditional approaches to centralized management aren't well-suited to support the diversity of devices and business operations.
The massive scale of these transformations highlights key challenges in monitoring and securing all of these devices, people, and clouds environments.
The mobile transformation and cloud-oriented network design evolution is changing the approach to ‘traditional’ physical protections and security consistency associated with centralized, private IT environments. The defenses established in a private data center do not extend to the modern Network Edge designed for multi-cloud operations, IoT, edge computing remote sites and mobile workforces.
Data protection must be a focal point from the very start of Network Edge design. If data is compromised at the edge, risk and new cyber threats will propagate across the core data center and give attackers a foothold in your organization. Maximizing and maintaining visibility of activity across the network edge. This entails use of appropriate inline and out-of-band active and analytic tool sets.
The migration towards moving workloads to public cloud environments like AWS, Azure, Google Cloud or combining with private virtual environments are changing the traditional network edge boundary across these more dynamic, virtual environments. WAN/LAN boundaries, Internet Access and firewall placement that were once singular physical locations are now dispersed across a broad landscape of physical and virtual environments. A massively scaled (and blurred) network edge will inevitably introduce new blind spots. Applying traditional network monitoring approaches will need to evolve to a more elastic network edge that leverages physical as well as cloud and virtual monitoring nodes. This is a unique challenge that requires a sustained, elastic approach to monitoring strategy, tool placement and security strategies.
Dispersed critical assets and a more dispersed, remote workforce introduces another layer of complexity. Introduction of remote tools and monitoring may be needed to complement centralized tool deployments. Addition of remote inline tools like firewalls are critical tools, but will require new approaches in automation and lifecycle management to assure performance and vulnerability assessment at these locations.
A well planned network edge design with a proper tool set will enable comprehensive monitoring to identify and resolve performance/security issues. Forcing traditional solutions into a modern network edge design would result in significant blind spots and significant risks to cyber attacks. A flexible network edge monitoring approach with combination of inline and out-of-band tool sets is key.
Garland’s innovative inline edge visibility products enable this new design approach. Architectural assets include bypass TAPs, inline packet brokers and cloud monitoring solutions that eliminate blind spots across edge, enterprise, datacenter and cloud networks. These building blocks ensure 100% packet visibility, network/security tool optimization, network performance, improved tool lifecycle aimed at detecting and mitigating performance issues and security threats throughout your evolving IT infrastructure.
Some of our most critical edge solutions include:
While modern network edge can seem complicated compared to traditional data center architectures, Garland has the critical components needed to ensure success. Ensuring comprehensive visibility, monitoring, and security across this new physical/virtual/cloud landscape is key.
But this is just one aspect of mastering the edge of the network. In Part 2 of this series, we’ll dig deeper into the security conversation. Looking to add inline or out-of-band security monitoring solutions, but not sure where to start? Join us for a brief network Design-IT consultation or demo. No obligation - it’s what we love to do.
Chris Bihary, CEO and Co-founder of Garland Technology, has been in the network performance industry for over 20 years. Bihary has established collaborative partnerships with technology companies to complement product performance and security through the integration of network TAP visibility.