Bringing networking and security together through network automation
by Steve Nye - Executive VP of Product Strategy & Corporate Development, Infoblox - Friday, 10 May 2013.
In organisations where a high volume of firewall changes are required, automation means that security staff are able to analyse these changes wherever they’re required. They are then able to automatically test and provision these changes, across the network, saving considerable time on previous processes of applying rules individually across separate devices. And, where multiple vendors are involved, there is a significant reduction in the need for specialist knowledge of each vendor’s unique syntax, which will give both the networking and security teams a far better understanding of what is required.

Network teams will have the ability to make firewall policy changes quickly in one place, and distribute these changes to multi-vendor devices, which not only reduces the time and effort required, but also eliminates the need to make changes to individual devices.

By reducing the level of specific knowledge required by the networking teams, while still maintaining their understanding of the task in hand, automation will enable both teams to make cohesive decisions and recommendations, and take crucial and timely actions together, within an organisation’s policies.

Freeing up time, sharing expertise

As we can see, employing automation means that the number of manual tasks will immediately be reduced, freeing up time which can be better used by both teams to work more collaboratively on tackling growing security challenges.

Most importantly, automation doesn’t make changes without review or approval – it leverages computing power and analysis to handle repetitive processes such as finding overlapping/unused rules or provisioning changes faster with less risk of human error.

In short, empowering both security and networking teams with automation will lead to a reduction in manual processes and will leverage embedded expertise and provisioning to ensure that a business’s systems remain compliant. Automating its IT network infrastructure will improve the change and provisioning process to help shorten the time needed to deploy new services.

As the traditional boundaries between security and networking teams begin to blur, we see the need for a cultural shift where silos are demolished and the teams’ respective expertise is brought together for smooth delivery of processes and decisive actions. Instead of conflict between the two teams, we see network automation technology as being the enabler of this shift, helping networking and security teams to work together towards one united common goal – that of securing and strengthening the enterprise’s most valuable asset – the network and access to key applications.

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