Mitigating risk with SDN. Here's what's on your customers' lips.

Explore why software-defined networking solutions are essential for your customers who are looking to protect their businesses against security risks.

Some types of digital risk are obvious, such as the headline-grabbing breaches of customer data that damage brands and lead to multi-million dollar regulatory fines. The less obvious risks include the lost opportunities from not being able to quickly bring new applications or services to market, or having those apps suffer crippling performance or security issues. Even more insidious, but just as real, is the damage from not being able to tap data from customers, business partners or the internet of things to deliver the digital solutions that create new revenue and markets.

As businesses demand more agile and flexible IT services, the network has become a focal point for innovation. Yet it has also become a bottleneck, as manual provisioning and configuration slow the delivery of secure applications. Error-prone manual security configuration and patching creates massive vulnerabilities. Rapidly changing workloads make it harder to track virtual machines (VMs) and provide even basic security as they are spun up and down, and firewalls and security policies must be moved or reconfigured as workloads move between in-house, cloud and hybrid environments.

Making data available across applications

Becoming digital also means analysing data from many different sources and making the resulting analysis available to many different applications. But all that data access is of no value if the security of the data is compromised, or data handling platforms cannot scale to allow big data analysis of massive amounts of customer or device data.

Software-defined networking (SDN) mitigates all these risks by allowing network administrators to programmatically initialise, control, change, and manage network behavior dynamically via open interfaces and the abstraction of lower-level functionality. Among the key SDN features that mitigate business and technical risk for your customers are:

  • Granular control through microsegmentation that allows organisations to create application- or workload-specific security rules for the VMs that support specific applications or workloads.
  • Automated configuration and management of VMs, and their associated security rules, to speed the secure delivery of applications and services to market.
  • Fast and even automatic rerouting of workloads among VMs to increase performance under rapidly changing workloads, and to cut recovery time from minutes to seconds.
  • Simplified orchestration of multiple best-of-breed cloud solutions through a single SDN platform, providing both vendor choice and ease of management.

The benefit of security

IT leaders recognise these advantages. 60% of the IT decision makers surveyed for a Forrester Research study said that SDN platform capable of managing multiple environments has a high or extremely high impact on their ability to upgrade their security environment, refresh or upgrade their network, pursue cloud-based services, and expand desktop as well as server virtualisation. One manufacturing customer found the labour required to make configuration changes decreased by 72%.

When pursuing a “risk mitigation” selling strategy, start by asking those responsible for the organisations’ networks or virtualisation strategies about their security, agility or budget challenges. These conversations will highlight the links between those applications, and data, and the business, and the most critical risks that need to be mitigated.

Takeaways

Among the potential elements of a “risk mitigation” solution to offer your customers are:

  • Software and services to help customers understand how their resources are being used, and to mitigate risks from performance or uptime issues.
  • Security or network configuration consulting to mitigate security and/or performance risks.
  • Migration of older applications on unreliable or hard to maintain inflexible hardware to more resilient virtualised servers and networks.

The Trusted Advisor Blueprint: A definitive guide to software defined networking