SD-Branch Means New Opportunities for Partners

Office Router
Fortinet's Jon Bove

Jon Bove

By Jon Bove, VP of Channel Sales, Fortinet

Channel Partners Insights logoThe majority of organizations are adopting cloud infrastructures and services, which means that compute resources are being transitioned from traditional data centers to virtualized environments. This has created challenges for the channel community as traditional revenue streams are affected by digital transformation efforts.

As a result, many channel providers have had to retool their portfolios and retrain their sales teams to identify new opportunities, such as extending licenses into the cloud, providing solutions and support for new edge computing technologies and retooling traditional architectures to compete more effectively in the digital marketplace.

Security and Digital Transformation

One of the most effective and profitable areas of focus for the channel has been security. Each new networked environment and device extends the potential attack surface, increasing risk and exposure. And increasingly, the teams tasked with building out these new ecosystems, such as DevOps teams for the cloud, have little security experience. Far too often, left to their own devices, they stand up one-off security solutions for each new project that actually create more security problems than they solve due to things like vendor and product sprawl, and solutions that can’t talk to each other, resulting in limited visibility and control.

With guidance from a trusted channel adviser, however, organizations can create holistic security architectures that span new networked environments and can scale to accommodate requirements such as elasticity and the use of highly distributed, and often temporary, digital resources. Finding these opportunities, however, requires understanding some of the most recent digital transformation trends organizations are migrating toward.

Extending Secure SD-WAN to the Branch

One of the latest opportunities is SD-WAN, which replaces traditional fixed connections to branch offices and retail locations with flexible connectivity that supports things such as interconnectivity between remote offices, critical software-as-a-service applications such as Office 365 and Salesforce, and latency-sensitive applications such as unified communications. There’s also a critical need for support in selecting and truly integrating security into these connections. Otherwise, organizations tend to reproduce the challenges they have elsewhere by trying to install security as an overlay after an SD-WAN solution with inadequate security has already been implemented.

What many organizations are realizing, however, is that replacing the connection to the branch office isn’t enough. That’s because the branch network behind that connection is also undergoing rapid change. This includes things like the rapid adoption of connected Internet of Things devices, such as sensors, monitors and security devices, and BYOD devices such as smartphones and tablets. In addition, due to the growing volume of traffic, data and applications, organizations can no longer afford to backhaul all branch traffic back to the central data center. Instead, connected devices also require direct links to the internet and cloud apps to access some data and applications, while other applications and workflows need the performance and security of an SD-WAN connection.

Defining the SD-Branch

Channel partners have a unique opportunity to extend the functionality and security of secure SD-WAN solutions into what is being called the SD-Branch. This approach enables branch offices and retail locations to embrace the power and productivity of digital transformation without exposing themselves to additional risks or by creating a weak-link network endpoint that can be exploited to launch an attack at the central network.

To effectively establish an SD-Branch, the following critical elements need to be …

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