The evolving role of the partner in the age of convergence

Sean Campbell, Director Canadian Channels, Fortinet

If the only constant in life is change, then the best organizations are the ones that embrace it and extract value from it. For many, work has certainly changed and the demands brought on by remote or hybrid work models have stretched IT departments and increased users’ expectations of the network. Instant access to network resources and applications is now an expected reality with no regard for where the user is located or the device they’re using. 

As networks expanded to meet these demands, traditional perimeters have been stretched to their limits. New technologies and diverse workstyles result in a multi-edge environment that requires an integrated approach to security to safeguard the network from more frequent and more sophisticated attacks. 

A new hybrid reality 

New work styles have benefited from cloud adoption, yet many organizations continue to rely on data centers. Organizations that rapidly shifted to a remote work model during the pandemic have found themselves with one foot on premise and another in the cloud. 

New remote work models have changed networks. As a result of increased reliability of 5G networks and the adoption of smart systems. Today’s hybrid network is multi-edged, driven by digital transformation, contactless commerce, and data-driven decision making. These highly  distributed, hybrid networks offer new challenges, such as  rapidly expanding attack surfaces, changing network configurations, and tracking data across clouds. 

For such organizations, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. As legacy systems are replaced to meet changing network demands, security must keep up. Expectations are high, as legacy solutions struggle to provide users the secure access to applications, data and resources they want regardless of where they are located. 

Security and networking convergence is an opportunity for partners

Fortinet’s answer to this new hybrid reality is a convergence of security and networking strategies. Security-driven Networking integrates an organization’s networking environment with a security platform that can effectively defend dynamic environments. This convergence of security and networking offers important benefits as IT capabilities can more easily expand without compromising network visibility and security and while delivering on better productivity. 

Organizations require security solutions that work with their unique network environments and business requirements – but also offer the flexibility they need to grow. A “security-driven networking” approach meets those needs by integrating an organization’s network and security architecture so businesses can embrace digital innovation without exposing themselves to risk.

Emergence of a new kind of partner  

The growth of security-driven networking opens a door for partners as they offer the levels of protection and support organizations require. Helping customers converge networking and security gives partners a way to demonstrate value, as most organizations will need guidance when addressing their hybrid IT challenges. 

To guide organizations through a converged security and networking approach, partners should focus on these three areas: 

  1. Hybrid-friendly: A network-security approach that recognizes legacy systems and works to provide better visibility across hybrid IT environments, providing protection for endpoints and the cloud. Partners that can shape their offerings to work with a hybrid environment will benefit from the move toward convergence.
  2. Flexible Approach: Flexibility is a hallmark of security-driven networking and a necessity as organizations continue to adjust to new work models. A flexible infrastructure allows organizations to easily adapt to shifts in the IT and cyber-security landscape, allowing them to stay ahead of the competition – and the cybercriminals
  3. Better Performance: Customers expect effective solutions that maintain or improve the user experience, with security to match. Security-driven networking prioritizes performance without sacrificing security, so organizations get the best of both worlds. 

Partners in convergence

Smart partners will be looking for ways to meet the challenges of today’s modern, complex and continuously evolving networks. As hybrid IT becomes the norm for organizations, traditional security solutions will fall behind. Partners have an immense opportunity today to be at the forefront of this convergence of security and networking to deliver better performance, flexibility, and security solutions that are capable of defending against today’s rising cyber threats.