Security – The 3rd Megashift

While the first recorded use of the term “Cloud computing” was as early as 1996, the first commercial Cloud Computing product was launched by Amazon in 2006 with their “Elastic Compute Cloud” launch. This, Cloud transformation, represented the beginning of the first of three Megashifts seen in ICT over the past decade.

Fourteen years on, almost 60% of all workloads are run in either public or private cloud expected to rise to as much as 91% by 2022, providing a clear indication that Cloud is the undisputed future of application delivery.

The second Megashift, network transformation, started as early as 2009 but also only saw traction later from 2014 with the introduction of a wide range of software-based WAN vendors. Network transformation was designed to assist organisations in aligning legacy networks with Cloud application delivery by leveraging the Internet. Initially known as hybrid WAN in which companies balanced the use of both dedicated and internet-based network infrastructure, most companies today are driving towards exclusive Internet WAN deployments to deliver direct to cloud application access, increase bandwidth and lower overall network cost.

The third Megashift, security transformation, has lagged far behind its predecessors and even so could end up being the most influential in its effect on both Cloud and network transformation strategy. Not unlike Cloud and network, security transformation started as early as 2009 but only recently are we starting to see a strong move by customers and vendors to Cloud security architectures and solution offerings.

In mid 2019 Gartner released their new magic quadrant, Gartner SASE, which describes a framework for the consolidated future of security delivery using a single vendor and cloud-native approach. The quadrant advocates that the future of security should be delivered from the Cloud to address a world with increasing user mobility and Internet-based application delivery. What followed has been nothing less than a race to align with the Gartner principles highlighting the influence of Gartner on industry direction.

The race is made up of companies born in Cloud and legacy appliance-based security companies shifting to Cloud. The few Cloud-native vendors have the lead and associated advantage of building global multi-tenant cloud infrastructure from the ground up but own less than 10% overall market share, while the legacy appliance based giants, uncomfortably shifting their solutions to include Cloud delivery, are still deeply rooted in their traditional appliance approach. In both cases’ as Cloud delivery intensifies appliance-based security is likely to disappear over the next decade.

Security, a critical part of your digital transformation strategy

Examples of companies choosing transformative cloud and network strategies only to be undone by the lack of security transformation are common. Two leading benefits of Cloud computing include on-demand compute and software (IaaS, SaaS, PaaS) coupled with “anywhere” application access. For the most part the “anywhere” access aspect has never been realized as customers tend to default to extending legacy networks into private cloud instead of adopting strategies that make Cloud applications accessible from anywhere. Gartner recognizes that to address this challenge, organisations need to shift security and application access to the end-point delivering seamless private and public access from any device, location or network. When organisations ignore this paradigm the performance gains available are all but eliminated, and continue to force users to connect to the corporate network to access private applications in Cloud, as is the case today.

Similarly, companies transforming networks with SD WAN forgo one of the largest benefits of “direct to Cloud” access, by forcing the security controls to be enforced within a centralised DC. Like Cloud, at least half the benefit of network transformation and associated performance gains are lost when companies force branches back through the DC to apply security controls when accessing Cloud applications, avoidable in a Cloud security architecture.

But possibly the greatest effect of security transformation will be the retirement of the network itself. Very few if any companies having formed over the past five years adopt WAN strategies as in today’s world applications are delivered from Cloud, removing the need for WAN’s that for the most part have connected users to applications in the private network. Its therefore logical to assume that as security transformation takes hold, and users can seamlessly and securely access applications from anywhere, WAN’s will be retired.

In summary, security transformation holds the key in performance related objectives for both application and network transformation strategies. Equally important is that Cloud security is likely to disrupt and replace traditional networking as we know it as companies come to grips with the reality that the WAN is no longer a necessary part of their application delivery strategy.