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Senior Editor

Networking and security teams tasked to converge, collaborate

Oct 17, 20233 mins
Network SecurityNetworkingSASE

Networking and security teams are consolidating or being asked by management to improve collaboration between the two groups.

Cloud computing, hybrid work, and remote connectivity are amplifying the need for networking and security teams to be in lockstep. Increasingly, enterprises are considering consolidating the two groups – or at least boosting collaboration between teams, according to research from Cato Networks.

In a recent survey of 1,694 IT leaders worldwide, 44% of respondents said networking and security teams “must work together,” and another 30% said they “must have shared processes.” Another 8% said they’re working to create one networking and security group.

The goal of shared processes could be a hefty challenge for some organizations. In the Cato Networks survey, 12% of respondents reported that their networking and security teams either have “turf wars or struggle working together,” and another 34% said they “occasionally have problems working together.” The remaining 54% reported that the two teams work well together now.

At the same time, 68% of organizations reported that they currently use different security and networking management and operations platforms. More than three-fourths (76%) said they believe that “using one platform for both purposes would improve collaboration between the networking and security teams.”

SASE drives network and security collaboration

The survey also asked respondents which teams drive investments in secure access service edge (SASE) technology.

For 47% of those polled, security teams take the lead and include their networking counterparts when necessary. Nearly 40% reported that their networking teams drive SASE evaluations and investments with their security peers becoming involved to vet the vendors.

Cato Networks offers SASE – along with a slew of competitors including Cisco, Fortinet, Netskope, Palo Alto Networks, Versa Networks, and VMware.

Functionally, the five main pillars of SASE are SD-WAN, firewall-as-a-service (FWaaS), secure web gateway (SWG), cloud access security broker (CASB), and zero trust network access (ZTNA).

“The opportunity to leverage a cloud-based architecture to enforce security policies to distributed locations and remote workers is the real value of SASE. It offers management efficiencies, it supports a modern workforce, and it supports an important integration between the network and security teams,” said Brandon Butler, research manager for network infrastructure at IDC.

In a recent IDC survey, 68% of 830 respondents said they would like to use the same vendor for their SD-WAN and security/SASE solution.

At the same time, Gartner expects organizations to be converging networking and security roles in the foreseeable future. “As the single-vendor SASE Market matures, we expect the capabilities gap to close with best-of-breed dual-vendor SASE architectures and organizations to consolidate networking and network security roles, which will drive the purchase of a single offering,” states Gartner’s recent Magic Quadrant for SD-WAN.

Nearly one-fourth (24%) of those surveyed by Cato Networks reported that networking and security responsibilities currently are handled by one team within their organization. That’s the case at Cato Networks’ customer and brewer Carlsberg, which consolidated its networking and security teams.

“Converging networking and security teams lets us eliminate the turf wars so long played by IT. We can identify and act on potential back doors created by network changes and identify operational issues in security changes far faster because security and networking teams pull together as a single team,” said Tal Arad, CISO and head of technology for Carlsberg, in a statement. “For Carlsberg, networking and security operations are ultimately about the same thing: ensuring the beer keeps flowing. Blurring the lines between networking and security people, I think, is the right way to achieve that goal.”