Calming the Complexity: Bringing Order to Your Network 

Friday, October 20, 2017

Reuven Harrison

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In thinking about today’s network environments – with multiple vendors and platforms in play, a growing number of devices connecting to the network and the need to manage it all – it’s easy to see why organizations can feel overwhelmed, unsure of the first step to take towards network management and security. But what if there was a way to distill that network complexity into an easily-managed, secure, and continuously compliant environment?

Exponential Growth

Enterprise networks are constantly growing. Between physical networks, cloud networks, the hybrid network, and the fluctuations that mobile devices introduce to the network, the number of connection points to a network that need to be recognized and protected is daunting. Not to mention that in order to keep your organization running at optimal efficiency – and to keep it secure from potential intrusions – you must operate at the pace that the business dictates. New applications need to be deployed and ensuring connectivity is an absolute requisite, but the old now overly permissive rules need to be removed, and servers decommissioned – it’s a lot, but teams can trudge through it.

But getting through it isn’t all that you have to worry about – the potential for human error on a simple network misconfiguration needs to be factored in as well. As any IT manager knows, even slight changes to the network environment – intended or not – can have a knock-on effect across the entire network.  

What’s in Your Network?

Adding up all the moving parts that make up the network, the likely risk of introducing error through manual processes and the resulting consequences of such errors puts your network in a persistent state of jeopardy. This can take the form of lack of visibility, increased time for network changes, disrupted business continuity, or an increased attack surface that cybercriminals could find and exploit.

Considering how large enterprise networks are and the number of changes required to keep the business growing, – an organization’s security team can face hundreds of change requests each and every week. These changes are too numerous, redundant, and difficult to manage manually; in fact, one manual rule change error could inadvertently introduce new access points to your network zones that may be exposed to nefarious individuals. In a large organization, small problems can quickly escalate.

The network has also fundamentally changed. Long gone are the days of sole reliance on the physical data center as organizations incorporate the public cloud and hybrid networks into their IT infrastructure. Understanding your network topology is substantially more difficult when it’s no longer on premise. Hybrid networks are not always visible to the IT and security teams, and thus complicates the ability to maintain application connectivity and ensure security.

Network Segmentation & Complexity: A Balancing Act

Network segmentation limits the exposure that an attacker would have in the event that the network is breached. By segmenting the network into zones, any attacker that enters a specific zone would be able to access only that zone – nothing else. By dividing their enterprise networks into different zones, IT managers minimize access privileges, ensuring that only those who are permitted have access to the data, information, and applications they need.

However, by segmenting the network you’re inherently adding more complexity to be managed. The more segments you have, the more opportunity there is for changes to be made in the rules that govern access among these zones.

How can an IT manager turn an intricate, hybrid network into something manageable, secure, and compliant?

The Answer: Automation and Orchestration

As we have seen, the enterprise network changes all the time – so it’s imperative to ensure that you’re making the correct decisions so that changes do not put the company at risk. The easiest way to do this is to set a network security policy, and use that policy as the guide for all changes that are made in the network. Using a policy-based approach, any change within the network infrastructure is confirmed to be secure and compliant. With a centralized policy in place, now you have control.

The next step to managing complexity is removing the risks of manual errors. This is where automation and orchestration built on a policy-based approach is required.

Now you’re able to analyze the network, design network security rules, and develop and automate the rule approval process. This approach streamlines the change process and eradicates unintended errors.

Using the right automation and orchestration tools can add order and visibility to the network, manage policy violations and exceptions, and streamline operations with continuous compliance and risk management.

Together, automation and orchestration of network security policies ensures that you have a process in place that will enable you to make secure, compliant changes across the entire network – without compromising agility, risking network downtime, or investing valuable time on tedious, manual tasks.

Complexity is the reality of today’s enterprise networks. Rather than risk letting one small event cause a big ripple across your entire organization, with an automated and orchestrated approach to network security management, your network can become better-controlled – helping you improve visibility, compliance, and security.

About the author: Reuven Harrison is CTO and Co-Founder of Tufin. He led all development efforts during the company’s initial fast-paced growth period, and is focused on Tufin’s product leadership. Reuven is responsible for the company’s future vision, product innovation and market strategy. Under Reuven’s leadership, Tufin’s products have received numerous technology awards and wide industry recognition.

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