Home SecurityNetwork Security How SD-Branch addresses today’s network security concerns

How SD-Branch addresses today’s network security concerns


Secure software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) has become one of the hottest new technologies, with some reports claiming that 85% of companies are actively considering SD-WAN to improve cloud-based application performance, replace expensive and inflexible fixed WAN connections, and increase security.

But now the industry is shifting to software-defined branch (SD-Branch), which is broader than SD-WAN but introduced several new things for organizations to consider, including better security for new digital technologies. To understand what’s required in this new solution set, I recently sat down with John Maddison, Fortinet’s executive vice president of products and solutions.

Zeus Kerravala: To get started, what exactly is SD-Branch?

John Maddison: To answer that question, let’s step back and look at the need for a secure SD-WAN solution. Organizations need to expand their digital transformation efforts out to their remote locations, such as branch offices, remote school campuses, and retail locations. The challenge is that today’s networks and applications are highly elastic and constantly changing, which means that the traditional fixed and static WAN connections to their remote offices, such as MPLS, can’t support this new digital business model.

That’s where SD-WAN comes in. It replaces those legacy, and sometimes quite expensive, connections with flexible and intelligent connectivity designed to optimize bandwidth, maximize application performance, secure direct internet connections, and ensure that traffic, applications, workflows, and data are secure.

However, most branch offices and retail stores have a local LAN behind that connection that is undergoing rapid transformation. Internet of things (IoT) devices, for example, are being adopted at remote locations at an unprecedented rate. Retail shops now include a wide array of connected devices, from cash registers and scanners to refrigeration units and thermostats, to security cameras and inventory control devices. Hotels monitor room access, security and safety devices, elevators, HVAC systems, and even minibar purchases. The same sort of transformation is happening at schools, branch and field offices, and remote production facilities.

john maddison  fortinet square Fortinet

John Maddison, executive vice president, Fortinet

The challenge is that many of these environments, especially these new IoT and mobile end-user devices, lack adequate safeguards. SD-Branch extends the benefits of the secure SD-WAN’s security and control functions into the local network by securing wired and wireless access points, monitoring and inspecting internal traffic and applications, and leveraging network access control (NAC) to identify the devices being deployed at the branch and then dynamically assigning them to network segments where they can be more easily controlled.

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