Financial services organizations have long dealt with the challenge of providing secure, robust, and cost-effective connectivity to their branch offices, which are often spread out across cities, states and even countries. But as more employees began to work from home as a result of the pandemic, this issue only grew more complicated due to an increase in the number of remote users requiring access to the corporate network. Unsurprisingly, this has led to increased bandwidth requirements and more applications moving to the cloud. At the same time, traditional Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) connections have proven ineffective, sometimes inhibiting – or even prohibiting – visibility, security, and performance amid the proliferation of new locations.
How Secure SD-WAN Supports Evolving Business Requirements
Pandemic-related restrictions and shutdowns have led financial services organizations to adopt various business applications to stay afloat. In one scenario, an organization with more than 500 employees and branches found that the single MPLS and internet link they had at each location hindered their business-critical video and voice applications. Not only did this connectivity issue negatively impact employee collaboration, but it also hurt customer interactions.
Ultimately, this organization required secure and reliable access to the corporate network from all of its individual locations. With this in mind, the search began for a software-defined networking (SD-WAN) solution that offered application steering with service-level agreement (SLA) performance while still supporting numerous wide area network (WAN) connections for various remote offices. The company also sought a feature-rich SD-WAN solution that could support their evolving business needs for years to come.
Considering the Value of Secure SD-WAN
Ongoing pressure to reduce costs across their IT environment heavily impacted this company’s decision-making process when searching for the right solution, as is often the case with most financial services organizations. And while data security was also considered a top priority, it could not come at the expense of strong network performance. When putting these factors into consideration upon evaluating several solutions, the company determined that a security-driven networking approach to SD-WAN checked off all the boxes. Not only would a secure SD-WAN solution provide them with all the tools they needed, but it would also enable them to control costs and optimize operational efficiency at the same time.
The combination of networking and security in a single solution would provide high-speed performance, as well as built-in next-generation firewall (NGFW) functionality. It also enabled simplified scalability and management, both of which were crucial as new offices began to open in the future.
Highlighting the Benefits of Secure SD-WAN
With the right secure SD-WAN solution in place, organizations can enjoy the combined benefits of NGFW, WAN optimization, automation, and traffic shaping, among others. Upon the implementation of their solution, the company in question improved its operations thanks to the following:
Centralized Management and Reporting: This financial services organization has been able to deploy secure SD-WAN at their remote branch locations easily and quickly, thereby reducing the need for additional IT staff. In addition, they achieved improved visibility and control across their entire network infrastructure.
Intelligent Application Steering: The chosen secure SD-WAN solution has the ability to intelligently identify applications to determine the best path to be taken as a means to enhance performance, even during brownout or black conditions.
Integrated NGFW Functionality: At the top of the list of requirements for this company was a solution that offered integrated NGFW functionality, including deep SSL inspection capabilities. The secure SD-WAN solution they chose was able to deliver this service without hindering performance.
Finding the Right Solution to Meet Business Needs with Secure SD-WAN
As financial services organizations add more remote workers and branch offices while simultaneously adopting new cloud applications and infrastructure, they need secure connectivity solutions that can provide fast, compliant, and secure access to these cloud-based applications and the core network. And while SD-WAN is often named the solution that can address these needs, it is important to note that not all solutions are built the same, especially in regard to security. When looking for a solution, organizations must carefully consider everything they require not just for current plans, but also those of the future.
Views expressed in this article are the personal opinion of Rajesh Maurya, Regional Vice President, India & SAARC, Fortinet.