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June 14, 2019updated 16 Jun 2019 6:27pm

The good, The Bad and The Ugly of Digital Transformation

The risk is that independent teams may inadvertently open public-facing connections.

By CBR Staff Writer

Corporate networks are being restructured in order to enable digital transformation so that organizations can remain competitive in the market, writes Nick Lowe, VP EMEA, at Tufin.

Modernising the network means that a shift is taking place across businesses, with technological innovations such as public, private and hybrid cloud platforms, containerisation, and microservices driving waves of change.

These technologies are enabling businesses to be more dynamic than ever, helping them respond to market trends, create new services and change the way they serve customers through both flexibility and agility.

As such, businesses are eager to begin the journey. Yet one consideration that organisations tend to overlook is who is responsible for managing security configurations for these new technologies and platforms. Is it solely down to security teams to deal with? What other teams, if any, need to be involved? Infosec teams who own the on-prem network infrastructure may not have the same responsibilities for cloud and microservices. And how does that potentially impact risk and compliance?

According to one report, the global digital transformation market is expected to be a key area of investment for organisations around the world, with spend expected to grow from $6.7 billion in 2017 to $417 billion by 2026.

So with so many organisations willing to change, what are the positives and benefits of transformation? What are the challenges? How can it be improved? Here are the key areas that businesses need to be aware of.

The Good

Digital transformation efforts are highly valuable to businesses, which is why ‘transformation’ has become one of the key business buzzwords over the last few years.

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No matter the industry, it’s the innovation and efficiency benefits on offer that tend to take centre stage. Digital transformation is essential in order to ensure an organisation remains competitive. Let’s consider a bank trying to maintain its online presence without adopting public cloud as opposed to another that is cloud-first. Businesses need to adopt modern technologies in order to stay relevant in today’s market.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. New innovations are incorporating artificial intelligence and machine learning into business processes helping firms become more efficient and cost effective. These new ways of work are gathering momentum, presenting huge opportunities for business leaders as they can redefine their processes to achieve better results.

Clearly, there’s plenty for the business to be excited about, but what about the other side of the transformation debate?

The Bad

Another key aspect of transformation that businesses should pay attention to is the heterogeneous nature of modern networks. Businesses today – especially large enterprises – will likely end up using firewalls, routers and switches from multiple vendors, along with a combination of cloud platforms and services.

It’s therefore no surprise that complexity has been ranked as the biggest networking and security challenge facing IT teams.

And this trend isn’t likely to disappear any time soon. As organizations continue adopting the latest and greatest technologies to support their digital transformation efforts, maintaining network visibility becomes even more of a challenge. At the same time, managing these solutions and services becomes increasingly more difficult, increasing the exposure of the business to security breaches and audit failure.

As such, the business may end up being more agile and flexible than ever, but this won’t count for much if security is ignored. Agility can come at a cost, and this isn’t a price worth paying.

Organisations shouldn’t have to compromise, but many are doing exactly that, and their leaders don’t feel they have much of a choice.

The Ugly

The third key aspect of transformation is the fact that different teams will handle different parts of the infrastructure and have different priorities.  For example, the applications team may be responsible for managing the cloud infrastructure independent of the IT operations and security teams.  The risk is that independent teams may inadvertently open public-facing connections. This presents a new attack vector that the security team doesn’t know about if they can’t monitor security policy across all platforms. This fragmentation between departments could leave the network – and the business – at risk.

Another challenge is how to gain visibility into these new platforms. Infosec teams who own the overall central security policy for the organization don’t have the visibility they need into these modernized technologies, so there is no way for them to identify risky configuration or mistakes that would increase exposure.

Many applications teams still take the view that focusing too much on security will end up slowing down the pace of business and ultimately hurt their ability to maintain a competitive edge. This can result in potentially damaging trade-off.

So, considering the bad and the ugly of digital transformation, what can businesses do to ensure they achieve the right balance between agility and security?

Top-class Transformation

To strike a balance between both agility and security and solve the complexity conundrum of modern corporate networks, automation is the most effective solution. A central solution for automating security policy changes across legacy and modern infrastructure provides the desired agility, security, and visibility.

Building network security policy automation into digital transformation projects can help ensure that security is maintained without negatively impacting agility, giving businesses the best of both worlds as they innovate.

It also means IT teams will be able to cope with the scale of change that has become the new norm, while also providing them with full visibility into what is happening across the network.

Ultimately, central policy-based automation will remove the headaches presented by the ‘bad’ and the ‘ugly’ of digital transformation, leaving businesses free to focus on maximising the ‘good’ and realising the potential benefits on offer.

See Also: WAN Wanted for Birmingham’s 2022 Commonwealth Games

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