Some people love kit cars. They get a real thrill from buying the bodywork and chassis in the colour they want. They seek out the right engine and transmission and spend hours cleaning and rebuilding them.
They carefully research and select all the other components they need – the brakes, wheels, lights, seats and other interior items. Hours and hours are spent lovingly integrating and assembling them. When the project is finished they have the perfect car for them. And they get a great sense of achievement from doing it.
Built for fun
But how many kit cars do you see being driven on the road day in, day out? Not many. Because they’re not necessarily practical for day-to-day use. They’re typically less reliable, less safe, less comfortable and less secure. They’re built for fun, not usability.
In many ways this is exactly how many organisations approach securing their network. They look at the various aspects of their network - wired, wireless, mobile, data centre, campus and branch – they select security solutions for each and then bolt them on to the existing network.
The trouble is, when you start bolting different things together, like the kit car you get integration problems. You have to adapt things to fit, which inevitably means making compromises or even creating weaknesses that impact reliability.
You also create manageability problems. Production cars have sophisticated engine management and sensing systems that provide early warning of all sorts of problems. Putting such a system in a kit car would be nearly impossible.
And security in a kit car will never be as good as in a production car. Sure, kit cars can have alarms and immobilisers fitted, but they’re added after the fact. In production cars security is designed in, from the engine management system to the door lock to the type of key that is used. There’s another point too. Manufacturers are building ever more sophisticated security into their cars that would be difficult to retrofit to an earlier model.
Take a holistic view
So what does this mean for network managers? Today’s networks are becoming more sophisticated. Developments like Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), mobile apps, public and private clouds, and a growing dependence on wireless networks are increasing complexity and will continue to do so as the consumerization of IT gathers pace.
At Juniper Networks, we believe that organisations can’t afford to bolt security solutions onto the network. They must take a holistic view and develop a strategy that embeds security into the network. And the starting point must be the device and how to give customers, employees and guests secure access to the data and applications they need, wherever they are, whenever they want it.
We also believe that, to provide end-to-end protection, security solutions need to be integrated. From the device to the data centre, through firewalls, access points, switches and routers, security needs to be pervasive and applied consistently.
This doesn’t mean companies have to buy from a single supplier. Far from it. But it does mean they have to consider carefully how products and solutions from different suppliers will work together. Products based on open standards rather than proprietary architectures would be the prudent choice.
Finally, we believe that networks must be agile and flexible, able to adapt to new threats and embrace new opportunities as they appear, which should be another key consideration when selecting products and solutions.
Kit cars may be great fun, but there is nothing like a good production car for travelling safely and securely.