If you’re going to ask a customer a question, ask them a proper one!
You can’t get much bigger than looking at the future of enterprise networking and security, but that’s what a recent survey by Cato Networks – the results of which have just been announced – focused on. This latest annual survey from the SASE vendor specifically posed this question to over 2,300 companies: “The Future of Enterprise Networking and Security: Are You Ready for the Next Leap?”
Given the state of (non) play over the past 12 months, and that ongoing situation, a question such as this – which would carry serious weight at any time – is more meaningful than ever. I spoke at a recent webinar for a client about the importance of businesses needing to be ready for change, possibly as their only means of survival, and how the old two-, five- and 10-year plans were now absolutely history. I also talked about how “the new norm” as it was seen, such as home/remote working would indeed become the norm (and should have been decades ago) but wouldn’t be without its challenges, not least on the security front.
It’s therefore reassuring to see the results of the survey support my thoughts. Headline takeaways from the survey were:
Enterprises will continue working remotely: A mere seven percent of respondents indicated that they planned for everyone to move back to the office at a given moment in time, while 80% indicated their companies will continue with a remote workforce in whole or in part.
Securing the remote workforce is proving challenging: Enforcing corporate security policies on remote users was the second most common security challenge (according to 58% of respondents). A similar percentage indicated they lacked the time and resources to implement recognised security best practices. Boosting remote access performance remains the most popular use case for 2021 according to 47% of respondents, which will delight my clients Richmond Systems and Aritari!
SASE in focus for enterprises in post-pandemic 2021: 91% of respondents expect SASE to simplify management and security, while just over half of the respondents indicated that SASE would be very/extremely important to their businesses post COVID-19. As a sidebar here, of those who’ve already adopted SASE, 86% of respondents experienced increased security as a result of that adoption.
Each of these highlighted areas merits a focused blog, but we’ll start with the remote working angle. There are three basic aspects here: performance, security and support. Talk of the “giant LAN” dates back to the 90s, but the premise holds strong – users expect the same experience working from home as they would in the office. The problem here is when trying to secure those connections using the old system of backhauling traffic to a location for security inspection, which immediately adds dreaded latency to those connections which, in turn, undermines that remote user experience. And there are always back door opportunities to exploit, as this blog from the end of last year notes all too well:
The survey noted a massive investment in scaling VPN resources (72%) during the pandemic (which will again delight aforementioned Aritari) but, in line with this, the survey noted that boosting remote access performance remains the most popular use case confronting IT in 2021 (47%). What is significant here is that, in last year’s survey by Cato, this proved to be the least popular use case – now that’s a change in mindset!
Supporting that remote user base is also proving tricky, with implementing a satisfactory level of security being overly time-challenging (57% of respondents), while one third of those surveyed noted that even fundamental housekeeping such as timely patch deployment was proving challenging. Here is where the importance – for me – of a support overlay such as remote control becomes a fundamental requirement. Again, not that there’s anything new here – I was using this tech back in the mid-80s – but its value has now risen beyond all previous benchmarks. And the rules here are simple enough: a 24×7 service, that’s secure, that’s simple, that’s multi-platform, that’s non-intrusive if required at the user end and interactive as required. The virtual support bod equating to physically visiting an ailing user not only covers off a lot of technical requirements, but it also acts as the personal comfort blanket that many users still need, but that is rarely considered in technical appraisals.
As I noted, I will be looking in more detail at other aspects of this survey in future blogs, but for those looking for more direct info from said survey, here’s a link to more detail: