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Networking and security teams converging

Study finds more than 80% of IT leaders are consolidating security and networking teams or have a management directive to improve collaboration, with 75% believing using one platform for both purposes would provide benefits across the board

A survey from secure access service edge (SASE) platform provider Cato Networks has found that management increasingly expects networking and security teams to work closer together, if not outright converge, to better business operations, even if occasional problems or turf wars still exist.

Cato’s 2023 SASE Adoption Survey gathered the opinions of 1,694 global IT leaders, looking at how collaboration brings about business benefits, but also investigating SASE adoption, distribution of applications in the cloud and on-premise, the persistence of hybrid work and how IT is evolving to address modern infrastructure challenges.

One of the key findings was that an overwhelming majority of respondents – as many as 82% – indicated that security and networking teams were consolidating or that their firm’s management had a directive to improve collaboration. When asked how their organisation divides network and security management responsibilities, nearly 24% of respondents indicated that security and networking responsibilities were handled by one team.

The study also emphasised that collaboration difficulties between networking and security teams aren’t new, and those challenges persist. Some 48% of respondents reported occasional problems or outright turf wars between security and networking teams. It’s no wonder management is driving alignment among these teams.

As the teams come together, the survey found they prefer to use a single, unified platform for their respective roles. While just over two-thirds (68%) of firms said they currently used different security and networking management and operations platforms, the study revealed this dynamic was likely to change, with 76% of respondents believing that using one platform for both purposes would improve collaboration between the networking and security teams.

Regarding forming a SASE selection committee, 47% of respondents said it would be a security team project with the networking team involved as necessary. Another 39% said the opposite, with the networking team leading the project and involving the security team to vet the suppliers.

Commenting on the survey, Eyal Webber-Zvik, vice-president of product marketing and strategic alliances at Cato Networks, said: “The convergence of networking and security teams in organisations is no longer an afterthought. It is an action that IT leaders are embracing and adopting. As organisations strive to combat today’s cyber threats, enriching security operations with network visibility and intelligence is essential.”

Exemplifying the trends revealed by the survey data, Cato highlighted the work of world-renowned brewer Carlsberg Group, which has consolidated network operations and security under the responsibility of CISO and head of technology Tal Arad.

“For Carlsberg, networking and security operations are ultimately about the same thing: ensuring the beer keeps flowing. Blurring the lines between networking and security people, I think, is the right way to achieve that goal,” he remarked.

“Converging networking and security teams lets us eliminate the turf wars that have so long plagued IT. We can identify and act on potential backdoors created by network changes and identify operational issues in security changes far faster because security and networking personnel pull together as a single team. The fact that I can use a single console to manage everything, and my team can know, almost within a blink of an eye, what’s going wrong and where, is a huge advantage for us.” 

Read more about SASE

  • Cato claims SASE speed barrier record to sites and the cloud: Secure access service edge platform provider claims network throughput record, achieving 5Gbps on a single encrypted tunnel with all security inspections enabled.
  • Forging the path to SASE: Maxeon Solar Technologies is building out its security service edge capabilities with an eye on a SASE implementation that combines best of breed offerings from different suppliers.
  • Carlsberg turns tap on massive global SASE deployment: Global brewer addresses strategic IT challenges at scale, improving application delivery, modernising network security capabilities and standardising IT service delivery across more than 200 locations and 25,000 employees.
  • Transitioning to single-vendor SASE will take time: New Enterprise Strategy Group research reveals enterprises are interested in single-vendor SASE -- but with multiple tools on hand, the transition will take planning and time.

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