The move toward the hybrid workplace adds complexity to the infrastructure needed to support employees' IT needs. And that's a problem solution providers can help solve, writes Fortinet Canada's Sean Campbell
After two years of grappling with the pandemic, many organizations long for a return to “business as usual.” But after rapidly shifting to accommodate remote work at the start of the pandemic, these new or hybrid models of work are now the new normal.
Research shows that remote work benefits increased productivity and employee satisfaction. It helps address the workforce’s top concerns: Health and well-being, work-life balance, and mental health. Remote working options, and the flexibility that they provide, are now packaged as a benefit to retain existing employees and attract new talent.
With remote work here to stay, meeting the needs of employees will require organizations to balance the technologies that afford it and the security systems that can protect it. This is where partners can play a valuable role in helping organizations secure their remote workforce and the increasingly complex infrastructures they require.
This is timely given threat actors continue to target “remote everything” as a way to infiltrate back to corporate networks according to Fortinet’s FortiGuard Labs recent threat report.
Take control with centralized management.
Real-time collaboration, remote access to sensitive data and applications, and a need for more centralized management can make IT stacks increasingly complex. Partners can grow their business by finding ways to help customers better manage their on-premises data centers and cloud resources.
For example, Home Hardware, a leading Canadian home improvement, construction, and furniture retailer, recently improved the control of their complex infrastructure by implementing Fortinet Secure SD-WAN to secure and enhance application performance with a centralized management system.
Home Hardware faced challenges with legacy point products, multiple data centres, and cloud environments across their over a thousand dealer-owned stores. Further, critical payment applications and other SaaS applications accessed from the cloud made a centralized way of securing the network an important priority.
As part of the Fortinet Security Fabric, Secure SD-WAN enabled Home Hardware to take a more Security-driven Networking approach. As a result, operations were simplified, which reduced risk. The approach also allows for future growth because Home Hardware can extend its digital transformation to the LAN edge using Fortinet Secure SD-Branch. By future-proofing with an integrated solution, Home Hardware will be able to achieve central management and visibility of the entire WAN edge, LAN edge, and cloud.
Partners can play an essential role in helping customers like Home Hardware protect their expanding attack surfaces by integrating SD-WAN services into their offerings. Customers can leverage Secure SD-WAN to ensure network performance across cloud applications while managing deployment and configurations centrally and integrating security and performance for remote work models.
A future-proof cloud needs the right security stack
More mature cybersecurity postures require specific security capabilities and tools to manage cloud-based remote work strategies and applications. Centralized management only works effectively when integrated solutions provide edge-to-edge visibility. Partners can help customers future-proof their networks with the right integrated solutions that address network security, high-speed connectivity, and endpoint security.
Endpoint security is critical for any organization adopting hybrid or remote work models. Remote workers can be susceptible to phishing attacks and risky websites, and insecure home or remote networks can make organizations vulnerable to attacks, including ransomware.
Extended detection and response (EDR) solutions available today can help prevent malware infections by reducing the attack surface. Advanced automated response and remediation procedures can detect or defuse threats in real-time, beyond signature-based antivirus software.
With these capabilities, partners can provide their customers with enhanced endpoint security beyond traditional signature-based antivirus software and open avenues to new business opportunities.
Advise solutions that fit the customer
The shift to remote or hybrid work models has also uncovered gaps in organizations’ security teams. Many organizations have limited security resources or leverage IT teams with little security experience. MSPs and MSSPs can fill the void by providing access to new technologies and skilled security professionals for customers with limited resources. Providers offering managed security information and event management (SIEM) services and managed detection and response (MDR) services are better positioned to help customers scale without expanding internal teams to meet the demands of remote or hybrid work.
From there, providers can help customers move up the value chain by providing access to AI-driven threat intelligence and indicators of compromise (IOC) feeds. With flexible form factors and delivered as a service, these advanced technologies can be accessible to customers of all sizes – not just large-scale enterprises. This creates new value-added offerings for service providers that can differentiate them in the market while driving business growth.
Expanding offerings to meet security needs
The need for the integrated infrastructure to support remote or hybrid work models isn’t going away. The challenge for partners is to make sure organizations like Home Hardware can support consistent network, security, and application performance from any location for everyone – employees, customers, and other stakeholders. The best way for service providers to succeed is to offer integrated solutions with the flexibility to adapt and keep up with changing work styles and advanced threats.
These changes to distributed networking make a strong case for Secure SD-WAN. Paired with endpoint security and flexible consumption models for managed services like SIEM and MDR services, partners can carve out new offerings that differentiate them and accelerate revenue recognition.
Successful providers will be the ones that understand how to leverage a platform consolidation strategy with a strategic group of vendors to provide integrated capabilities, advanced technologies, and the option to access highly skilled staff as a service.
Sean Campbell is Director of Canadian Channels at Fortinet