Agility, Security and Governance
The three pillars of modern networks
By Bernhard Lück
Modern networks are a basic prerequisite for the digitization of companies. But what distinguishes a modern network? NTT explains what infrastructures have to offer so that they can function optimally and meet current and future requirements.
Modern networks securely and reliably integrate remote employees into the central IT environment, allow smooth use of new cloud services and the relocation of applications from company-owned data centers to the cloud. NTT explains how this can be achieved. According to the globally active IT technology service provider, the network infrastructure must be based on the following three pillars:
With the rapidly advancing digitization, the data flows in companies are changing. They no longer take place primarily within the boundaries of the company network, but extend to the cloud and the home offices of employees. This increases the dependence on fast and reliable connections as well as the need for flexible control of data transmissions. This is the only way for companies to prioritize the traffic of real-time applications such as voice and video communication or to move applications between the data center and the cloud depending on the usage loads. And this is the only way to enable employees in their home office or branch offices to have direct cloud access in order to avoid detours via central infrastructures that unnecessarily burden VPN servers, firewalls and WAN connections. An SD-WAN offers this combination of performance, reliability and agility. It allows adjustments of bandwidths, transmission priorities and the paths of data transmissions in real time and ensures optimal use of line capacities.
Since a significant part of the communication and data flows take place outside the protected company network, the security requirements increase significantly. Companies must therefore not only encrypt the transmissions, but also pay more attention to the assignment of rights and the control of access. In order to achieve a high level of security and to simplify the management of the network and security infrastructure, you should already take security into account during network planning and not only retroactively set it up on a new network. Highly integrated solutions that work together skillfully reduce complexity. For example, SD-WAN already provides encryption from the outset. When selecting solutions for authentication, rights management, application security and monitoring, it can also be useful to rely on one or a few providers so that a patchwork of poorly integrated individual solutions does not arise.
Modern networks with high agility allow quick adjustments when business requirements change. To ensure that these adjustments do not endanger security or business operations, well-thought-out and well-rehearsed governance processes are necessary. They regulate who is allowed to make which changes with which lead times, how escalations are handled and how the monitoring of the network services and the reporting take place. As a rule, a service provider takes over most of the tasks, since even large companies often do not have the resources to operate and monitor an SD-WAN around the clock. Together with the service provider, the SLAs, the contact persons on both sides and all processes affecting the network are agreed and recorded in the contract. However, even companies that manage their SD-WANs themselves need such governance processes and should record all responsibilities and regulations in an operating manual.
“Often companies introduce new cloud services or modernize their applications without thinking about the impact on the network. In such cases, bandwidth bottlenecks, unstable connections and security breaches threaten,“ explains Jörg Jakobi, Director Presales GTM Networking at NTT. “It is only with modern network solutions such as SD-WAN, which offer high performance, security and agility, that companies create the basis for other digitization steps. The introduction of new working models and cloud strategies should therefore always go hand in hand with a modernization of the network infrastructure.“