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September 23, 2015

A farewell to firewalls: how enterprise mobility redefined VPNs

CEO Briefing: Mobile and cloud have transformed the boundaries of the enterprise.

By Alexander Sword

If you were to draw one map of an enterprise network twenty years ago and another of one today, the picture would have changed dramatically.

From information being centralised on a company’s own mainframes or data centres you would now see it spread out among third party public and private clouds. Meanwhile, the end-points of the network have multiplied rapidly with the growth of mobile devices, wearables and the IoT.

"Enterprise boundaries are shifting," says Sudhakar Ramakrishna, CEO of Pulse Secure. "It’s driven by mobility, it’s driven by BYOD and increasingly driven by cloud because an enterprise’s assets are not just in their own data centres.

"They can be with a managed service provider, their own data centres or in the public cloud."

Above all, these two trends require enterprises to re-imagine access to their networks.

"Security is less about enforcing control and more about providing access," continues Ramakrishna. "The image of a firewall is a brick wall, which means that I’m going to stop you from coming into my enterprise. Our view of security is that you should provide access."

There are three keys to this, according to Ramakrishna.

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"The characteristics of a next generation secure access solution are that it has to be inherently mobile, it has to be inherently cloud-enabled, it needs to support hybrid environments and deliver great experiences."

"We want simplicity. But at the same time, how do you drive great user experiences without compromising security?"

This drive for user experience is also vital in virtual private networks (VPNs), he argues.

"In the VPN category the differentiation happens in a few ways. Time to set up is very important. In the old days it was time to set up for time to set up’s sake. Now it’s a customer experience thing. If it takes too long to set up I’m not going to use it.

"Two is the level of client support, the breadth of clients. Some of the vendors will only support Windows or only support iOS. If you’re not truly multi-platform you’re not going to be able to win in that space.

"Three, if you extend it even further and make it completely clientless so that when you initiating a connection you don’t look at it as initiating a VPN connection. Your browser or HTML 5 automatically does it.

"All of these are in the broader category of secure access, because it’s all about making the access smooth, fast and complete."

As long as the rapid innovation in enterprise mobility and cloud happens, we can expect the enterprise to be transformed just as rapidly.

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