Article | March 8, 2020
Picture this: An ambulance rushes a seriously injured patient to the hospital. In the back, the paramedic makes a video call with doctors while sending them real-time vital signs and images of the injury. It doesn’t look good. The paramedic pulls out what looks like an oversized ski glove connected to wires and grabs an ultrasound wand that a sonographer in an office somewhere virtually steers over the patient’s injury. The sonographer then reviews the images for signs of trouble.
Article | March 8, 2020 |
Telecommunications conglomerate Verizon has partnered with 3D development platform Unity to create entertainment applications and enterprise toolkits that can render 3D environments almost instantaneously, without the need for expensive hardware.
In a press release, Verizon said products from this collaboration will address the demand for instantaneous content in industries such as gaming, retail, and sports, where emphasis is placed on real-time digital immersion.
“We are entering an era of technology-led disruption where 5G and MEC will not only transform the full enterprise lifecycle, it will change the way consumers experience gaming and entertainment,” said Verizon Chief Executive Officer Tami Erwin.
These products will utilise 5G and Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) technology, taking the best of both worlds to enhance the digital experience for consumers.
The concept of edge computing has actually been around for roughly three decades, but it wasn't until recently that we've been able to apply it to Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Edge architecture reduces latency by moving computer services closer to the source — the "edges" — of the data. This not only decongests the centralised cloud of information, but also decreases the distance the data needs to cover to reach user terminals.
Meanwhile, 5G is the highly anticipated next generation broadband network that promises to deliver high speeds with just millisecond latencies. Despite the pandemic, its rollout hasn’t slowed down at all, with countries like China, South Korea, and the US getting a first taste of the technology.
The promise of lightning-fast connections, however, comes at a steep cost: 5G stations consume plenty of energy to work.
Though much of 5G's advantages come from its streamlined digital routing capabilities, it's also underpinned by a powerful network of hardware components — more precisely, printed circuit boards (PCBs). To answer the demand for more energy, engineers use ties to meet PCB requirements for solving the challenges that come with powering a standard board. These include considerations like signal paths and planar delays, among others. Placing the net ties at the right junctions distributes energy more evenly, thus providing efficient power delivery to 5G networks.
Despite all the touted capabilities of 5G, experts have flagged cybersecurity as one major concern. As a new innovation, 5G is still fairly unregulated, leaving loopholes and security gaps that cyber criminals can exploit. For instance, the expansion of bandwidth coverage actually opens up vulnerabilities and additional avenues for cyber attacks. Furthermore, the hyper connected nature of IoT devices makes it easier for hackers to gain access to different networks, both private and public; and unwitting users can potentially expose their contacts to virtual attackers.
Because of these threats, experts urge telecom companies to lay down a solid bedrock for 5G security before finalising the pivot towards it. For now, it remains to be seen how legislators and regulators will implement standards to guide the public in its use of 5G.
Amid this concern, Verizon and Unity are hopeful that their collaboration — and the marriage of 5G and MEC technology — will be a game changer in the gaming, retail, and entertainment industries.
“We know the world is demanding high-speed, AAA content, whether it’s an educational augmented reality application or a robot running a simulation of a digital twin,” Unity Vice President for Solutions Ryan Peterson said.
“5G is the key piece for us to facilitate these real-time 3D experiences broadly and to better meet the demands of the real-time economy.”
Article | March 8, 2020
Unless you’ve been living on an Internet-free desert island for the past couple of years, it’s been hard to escape all the industry hype around Software-Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN). While the business benefits of adopting SD-WAN are significant, there’s no denying the fact that evaluating and then deploying potential solutions is hard: typically, the solutions that deliver the best Return on Investment (ROI) involve products from multiple vendors, leading to complex integration and testing. A recently-announced software evaluation kit addresses these challenges, providing a pre-integrated open-source SD-WAN solution that runs on multiple white-box hardware platforms, all ready for a quick, efficient start to putting together a multi-vendor SD-WAN deployment.
Article | March 8, 2020
Network security today is losing the battle and a lot of it is blamed upon the traditional security devices. Imagine running next-gen IT Infrastructure secured by security tools made to secure legacy IT.Data breaches have increased substantially and IT professionals are continuously looking at new ways to improve their network security. In this scenario, SD-WAN emerges as one formidable option to implementthat will bolster your network security.
Table of Contents:
- What is SD-WAN?
- How does SD-WAN work?
- What are the main benefits of SD_WAN to network security?
- What are the other advantages of SD-WAN?
Let’s dig into it.
What is SD-WAN?
SD-WAN stands for software-defined wide area network (or networking). A WAN is a connection between local area networks (LANs) separated by a substantial distance—anything from a few miles to thousands of miles. The term software-defined implies the WAN is programmatically configured and managed. So, it can be easily adapted quickly to meet changing needs.
How does SD-WAN work?
An SD-WAN connects end users to virtually any application, hosted at any location (e.g., in the public cloud or a company data center), via the best available or most feasible transport service, whether that’s an MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching), broadband, cellular or even satellite internet link. To deliver this level of flexibility and performance to users in digital workspaces, an SD-WAN utilizes a control function that continuously analyzes traffic flows across the WAN and intelligently directs traffic in accordance with current policies.
The primary means of control in an SD-WAN is centralized. It often resides in a SaaS application running on a public cloud. Control is decoupled from the hardware to simplify network management and improve the delivery of services. SD-WAN appliances (and virtual appliances) follow operational rules passed down from the central controller. This greatly reduces or eliminates the need to manage gateways and routers on an individual basis.
SD-WAN gateways support hybrid WAN, which implies that each gateway can have multiple connections using different transports—MPLS, broadband Internet, LTE, etc. A virtual private network (VPN) is typically set up across each WAN connection for security. Consequently, the SD-WAN can be an overlay spanning a diverse communications infrastructure.
Dynamic path selection
Another feature of SD-WAN is dynamic path selection—the ability to automatically and selectively route traffic onto one WAN link or another depending on network conditions or traffic characteristics. Packets may be steered onto a particular link because another link is down or not working very well, or to balance network traffic across all available links. SD-WAN can also identify packets by application, user, source/destination, etc. and send them down one path or another based on those characteristics.
Policy is what determines where dynamic path selection will steer traffic and what level of priority (quality of service, or QoS) it is given. Business intentions can be implemented as policies via the central management console. New and updated policies are translated into operational rules and downloaded to all SD-WAN gateways and routers under control.
For example, to ensure the best performance for VoIP and interactive web conferences, a policy may be created by giving their packets transmission priority and routing them onto low-latency paths. Cost savings can be realized by sending file back-ups across a broadband Internet connection. WAN traffic that requires a high level of security can be restricted to private connections (e.g., MPLS) between sites and required to pass through a robust security stack when entering the enterprise.
SD-WAN has the ability chain itself together with other network services. WAN optimization (acceleration) is often combined with SD-WAN to improve network and application performance. Internet traffic leaving and entering a branch office may be routed across a VPN to a cloud-base security service to strike a balance between performance, security, and cost.
Read more: GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR SD-WAN: FEATURES YOU NEED TO START USING TODAY
What are the main benefits of SD_WAN to network security?
Eliminate VPN concerns
One of the first areas in which SD-WAN impacts security is when a company uses the internet as a method of transport.
Before SD-WAN came along and companies were using internet as a backup or even a primary transport method, they would build a VPN or a DMVPN to ensure secure transport of their traffic. This introduces a couple of issues, the first of which is this proliferation of VPNs that has to be managed. The company must have firewalls sitting at their data center, along with a VPN device or firewall sitting in the remote locations to be able to do these VPNs. Every site is dependent on the effort to be up on the network.
- Hamza Seqqat, Director of Solutions Architecture, Apcela
Failover is an issue with this VPN approach, he said. Companies can’t seamlessly failover from a fiber-based type of transport without having to strike some keys in between. It's hard and expensive to do seamless failover.
“Now you don't have to have firewalls for VPNs. You don't have to worry about building your own VPNs or encrypting your traffic,” Seqqat said. “Every SD-WAN product comes with a controller that takes care of things seamlessly. That means there is this smart software-defined engine that builds all these IPsec tunnels between all the locations as soon as you plug the device in. You're not actually having to build a VPN—the controller does it automatically for you, so all you have to do is give the device an IP address or enable DHCP and let it pick an IP address from the DHCP server. Suddenly it's on the network and its building tunnels to all the sites.”
He added that the SD-WAN controller builds a full mesh, so it can talk to every one of the sites without having to go back to the data center. This feature alone can reduce a company’s security footprint significantly because the site-to-site traffic becomes secure, easy, and seamless.
Reduce traffic going through security
A second significant benefit of SD-WAN that impacts security strategy is that it reduces the amount of traffic that needs to go through security parameters because all site-to-site traffic is encrypted. This makes security a bit easier to manage.“For a lot of companies, when they do VPNs for site-to-site traffic, they have to go through firewalls or some kind of encryption mechanism, and that increases their security footprint. It increases the complexity and the cost of security,” Seqqat said. “SD-WAN changes how traffic is routed through security.”
Seqqat gave an example of a site that has a gig worth of bandwidth, and out of that gig of bandwidth, some traffic goes to the internet and some goes to site-to-site.
“Without SD-WAN, generally you would have to run that whole gig through a firewall, and the firewall will split the traffic into what goes to the data center and what goes to the internet,” he said. “When you do SD-WAN, you don't have to do that. You can separate the traffic at the SD-WAN with a split tunnel, so you take half of the traffic and push it through the firewall to go to the internet and the other half goes straight site-to-site without having to go through a security parameter. Now you have a firewall to handle 500 megs as opposed to a gig, and that makes a huge difference because most security products are based on throughput and utilization. So, that can bring some cost benefits and ease management as well.”
Security inherent to SD-WAN
A third area where SD-WAN changes security strategy is the fact that certain security features can be implemented directly through the SD-WAN platform, which reduces costs and complexity in the actual security platform.
“This depends on what aspects of security you're talking about,” Seqqat said. “For example, security is included in the Silverpeak SD-WAN product, so the Silverpeak devices really do most of the security for you. You don't have to deploy another firewall on top of that. With Versa’s SD-WAN, you can virtualize the firewall, so there’s no need to deploy physical firewalls.”
For sites that simply need very basic security, SD-WAN has some inherent security capabilities. It can do things such as allow and deny certain sites and limit traffic that goes to certain sites.
When you look at most SD-WAN products, you can usually kind of steer toward one or another based on your security requirements. Deploying SD-WAN in itself can really eliminate the need for security at several locations or extend the security you have been using.
- Hamza Seqqat, Director of Solutions Architecture, Apcela
Simplify use of security platforms
In his final point, Seqqat said SD-WAN providers are making a lot of progress in partnering with both cloud security providers and cloud service providers. By making traffic encrypted and secure via SD-WAN, security platforms will only have to deal with public internet traffic.
“SD-WAN providers are really working towards partnering and certifying different security products,” he said. “Consider Zscaler as an example. Some SD-WAN products automatically route all your traffic through Zscalar, which does a cloud-based security parameter before it goes out to the internet or to cloud service providers.”
Seqqat said the most important part comes in the fact that Zscalar is distributed across 35 or 40 data centers that are all security parameters.
“Making that routing decision as to what data center your traffic goes through before it goes out to the Internet is extremely important to performance,” he said. “If your Office 365 instance is hosted in Seattle and your users in Europe are trying to reach that, which Zscalar data center the traffic is going to go through before it goes through the Seattle instance of O365 makes all the difference in what latency is going to be at round trip.
“SD-WAN provides somewhat of an automation and optimization of how traffic goes through Zscalar data centers based on performance metrics. SD-WAN can pull latency and jitter and packet loss and all that kind of stuff, so there is some intelligence that happens when a routing decision is being made as to where user traffic is going to go for security scrubbing or security features before it goes out to the cloud provider or to the Internet. That’s a huge feature that comes into play whenever you deploy SD-WAN.”
Read more: FOR SERVICE PROVIDERS SD-WAN IS A MIXED BLESSING
What are the other advantages of SD-WAN?
SD-WAN has many advantages when implemented well:
More predictable and reliable application performance, which helps support users in any digital workspace, across all connections. Superior connection security for cloud applications, without the performance tradeoffs of MPLS backhauling. Congestion reduction due to lack of bandwidth or brownouts with aggregation of bandwidth via multiple bonded and disparate or redundant links.
More reliable access to apps and fewer slowdowns due to congestion.
Resiliency and redundancy with fast failover when outages impact WAN connections.
Quality of service for prioritizing business-critical application traffic.
Fast deployments that fuel business agility when bringing applications online at a branch office, or simply changing the configurations. Zero-touch provisioning allows fast set up of sites in minutes with local staff instead of hours or days.
Reduced network transport costs and more flexibility through the use of MPLS-alternatives like broadband and cellular. Quick procurement of bandwidth from multiple transport services, contrast to the long lead times needed with legacy WAN carrier-based technologies.
Simplified administration with a centralized console eliminates the complexity of configuring edge devices in the field.
Deep SD-WAN analytics to monitor links for performance characteristics. Analytics benefit administrators who can use them when troubleshooting problems across the WAN.
Simpler branch office infrastructure that doesn’t require management of as many single-function devices
Intelligent traffic steering and dynamic path selection
Integrated security with leading 3rd-party solutions, including those for SaaS security
Interest in SD-WAN among organizations is on the rise, and we hope to see a tremendous rise in its adoption in network security strategies over the next few years. Vendor selection will be one of the factor for successful implementation of SD-WAN, as many are quickly developing new and effective software-defined platforms. An ideal vendor would be the one who effectively addresses your specific pain points and is able to meet your current as well as future requirements.
Read more: SD-WAN SECURITY: THE IMPACT OF ORCHESTRATED SERVICES MULTIPLICITY