Cloud or No Cloud, Hybrid IT is the Way for Today’s Enterprise

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For the last decade or so, cloud computing has seen more than its fair share of hype. Even so, the inventors of the technology hype cycle have referred to cloud computing as "one of the most hyped and confusing terms in the history of IT." If you believed the hyperbole, except for a few Luddites and technological relics, you'd think every enterprise has everything running in the cloud. But the truth is a little more complicated.

No one would argue that cloud computing hasn't fundamentally changed how business works. Cloud technology is mature and proven. Most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic required organizations to accelerate their cloud initiatives to support remote workforces and the need for increased agility, scalability, and digitization. More processes and applications continue to move to the cloud, and cloud adoption is only likely to increase going forward.

Cloud benefits are real, but contrary to what some vendors might like to believe, many applications aren't in the cloud; about 55% of enterprise applications are only very slowly migrating to cloud-based options. And according to HFS Research, approximately 50% of enterprise clients use an on-premises deployment model. Despite the initial setup cost, the on-premises deployment model provides more control of customization and greater flexibility of upgrades and security.

Many organizations have hybrid IT architectures that may include data centers, campuses, interconnecting branches, remote workers in their home offices, and multi-cloud deployments. They're using cloud in areas where its flexibility and scalability are important and keeping other workloads on-premises in situations where economics, compliance requirements, or other factors make cloud a poor choice.

Securing Hybrid IT

A hybrid architecture makes sense for many organizations, but it also has led to an expanded attack surface. This type of dynamic, interconnected networking environment offers tremendous benefits in terms of scalability and efficiency, but it requires rethinking security because there are more locations, devices, applications, and services to protect. Security needs to be everywhere and be able to expand and adjust to shifting requirements.

Unlike traditional on-prem IT architectures, a properly implemented hybrid network can provide on-demand capacity and dynamic flexibility that makes it possible for users and applications to be located anywhere. Hybrid IT architectures help accelerate digital innovation and fuel business growth

But all this flexibility comes at a cost: increased vulnerability to cyber attacks. In today's work from anywhere world, security policies and enforcement need to be able to follow applications and workflows end to end.

To detect and protect against new threats, security for hybrid networks needs to converge security and networking into a unified solution. At the center should be a next-generation firewall that can secure both the data center and hybrid IT architectures by providing:

  • Advanced networking and explicit application control with advanced routing capabilities that allow it to peer with multiple providers on the WAN (Wide Area Network) side and interconnect with a wide array of vendors in the LAN (Local Area Network).
  • Enterprise-grade security that seamlessly weaves networking, security, and essential threat intelligence into a single platform to effectively manage both internal and external threats.
  • SSL inspection performance to detect threats hidden in encrypted paths and automated threat protection without performance degradation.
  • Flexible and dynamic segmentation to prevent the lateral spread of malware, including ransomware, to prevent business disruptions.
  • Single-pane-of-glass management, automation, and orchestration designed to span dynamic, hybrid environments.

The Firewall and Hybrid IT

The future of IT may be cloud-heavy, but there will always be a need for hybrid IT. Today's hybrid networks have to span and scale across multiple ecosystems to ensure that critical data is available to any user, on any device, from any location, helping to fuel business growth. But making work from anywhere a reality requires consistent security everywhere.

Securing hybrid networks requires an NGFW that can provide consistent protection, visibility, and control across even the most distributed and dynamic environments. The NGFW should be able to operate at any edge, in any form factor, to seamlessly integrate networking and provide consistent policy enforcement, centralized orchestration, real-time intelligence sharing, and correlated threat response.

Although firewalls may not get as much attention as the cloud, they are likely to play a critical role in securing hybrid IT for the foreseeable future.

Learn more about FortiGate NGFW solutions and the new FortiGate 3000F.


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