Converge, Secure, and Automate at ONUG Fall 2023
In this blog
ONUG Fall 2023 displayed today's rapidly evolving digital landscape, and the demand for agility, scalability, and security within IT infrastructure has never been greater. Staying ahead of the curve is essential for organizations to remain competitive and meet the ever-increasing expectations of their users. This is where a convergence of a few intersecting domains comes into play throughout the two conference days. At the New York City event, WWT was privileged to participate in several panels and sessions.
Tom Whaley, WWT Chief Technology Advisor, and Ernest Lefner, Gluware Chief Product Officer, hosted a fireside chat to discuss intelligent network automation adoption and the practices network leaders across industries are using to implement and optimize automation.
As networks are becoming more dynamic and more complex and teams of network engineers are continually having ever-higher demands placed on them; the old way of managing networks with engineers working device by device at the CLI is not scalable; it's far too error-prone and leads to the network becoming the bottleneck for organizations that are looking to deploy new applications and services rapidly and at scale. Network automation is a critical piece that corporations are trying to solve; as network complexity increases, automation becomes key to reliability. In order to succeed with network automation you must have a network source of truth.
Statistics show that 65% of network changes are currently performed manually and that only 27% of network operators feel that they are successful, and this number is decreasing year on year. Organizations that are looking to automate their networks and incorporate DevOps and Infrastructure as a Code techniques that must have a network source of truth. WWT and Gluware make this easy - delivering pre-configured network automation solutions to enhance the accessibility to automation and boosting ROI. This enables customers to take a 'Buy' and 'Build' approach - using pre-built to solve immediate use-cases, then 'Build'-ing integrations when additional capabilities are required.
For ONUG Fall 2023, WWT and ONUG built a multi-cloud Capture the Flag (CTF) event - the "Space Jam" - highlighting the impressive work the Working Group has done in defining the Cloud Security Notification Framework (CSNF).
Dennis Faucher hosted an introductory talk and supported the "Space Jam" event.
In the 3 months leading up to ONUG Fall 2023, WWT partnered with the ONUG Cloud Security Governance Working Group on the development of the Cloud Security Notification Framework (CSNF) and the use of WWT's CyberRange to support the "Space Jam" event.
WWT's Advanced Technology hosted the infrastructure required for the event, including:
- AWS Instances for Generating Security Events
- Oracle Cloud Instances for Generating Security Events
- On-premises ATC Splunk for Capturing Multi-Cloud Security Events
- On-Premises ATC Splunk ONUG CSNF Plug-In for Normalizing Multi-Cloud Security Events
- CTF Game Hosted on ctfd.io
Each of the 8 teams was provided with their own ATC desktop and Splunk login.
The Space Jam began with a fun game of Cybersecurity Jeopardy to get everyone warmed up. The crowd was extremely adept at cybersecurity history!
After the Jeopardy warm-up, the teams got their hands dirty finding and stopping bad guys. Richard Julian, CSNF Working Group Member, explained the Capture the Flag and led the participants through the first two flags using their WWT ATC logins. The teams were then off and running, solving challenges by entering the correct flags and unlocking new challenges. Working group members assisted teams if they became stuck.
At the end of the night, one team came out victorious (Well done, Team FancyBear!). All participants went home with not only fabulous prizes but with the knowledge that the ONUG CSNF makes understanding multi-cloud security events so much easier.
Three key pillars were observed at the forefront of our discussions during this year's edition, and they were Network Convergence, Segmentation and Automation which brought together industry experts, innovators, thought leaders and members of the WWT community to explore the path forward.
Network Convergence: Bridging the Gap
As organizations strive to enhance their operational efficiency, network convergence has emerged as a crucial focal point. A new dawn of providing connectivity as a service through next-generation platforms, such as Graphiant, Apcela and Zscaler, are now becoming pervasive. Clients and consumers want outcomes and being able to express your intent, deploying it at pace and scale at any time and place will enable them and similar players to become truly differentiated in today's market.
The digital ecosystem is becoming increasingly complex, with a myriad of devices, platforms, and applications requiring seamless connectivity. Traditional siloed networks are no longer sustainable in this dynamic environment. Many of the ONUG discussions WWT had confirmed that the convergence of flexible IP networks any workload into a single infrastructure, is essential for keeping up with the demands of modern business.
Benefits of Network Convergence:
- Simplified Management: Unified network infrastructure allows for simplified management and reduced administrative overhead.
- Enhanced Scalability: A converged network is more agile and can easily adapt to changes in business needs.
- Cost Savings: By consolidating resources, organizations can reduce capital and operational expenses.
Segmentation: Ensuring Security and Compliance
The discussions at the conference emphasized the importance of segmentation in achieving robust network security and regulatory compliance. Thought leaders in the client space explained how Segmenting their infrastructure enables organizations to compartmentalize data and restrict access, which is paramount in safeguarding sensitive information and maintaining compliance with industry standards and regulations, enabled by players like Elisity, Asimily and Tenable, amongst others.
Advantages of Segmentation and Compliance:
- Enhanced Security: Segmentation acts as a barrier, preventing lateral movement of threats within the network.
- Compliance Adherence: Organizations can more easily meet industry-specific regulatory requirements by segregating sensitive endpoints, data and systems.
Automation: Streamlining Deployment and Operations
Automation is the tie that binds the previous two points around network convergence and segmentation together ensuring the network operates efficiently and securely.
ONUG Fall 2023 highlighted that automation is not just a trend, but a necessity in today's fast-paced digital world. From deploying a Nokia network infrastructure with truly programmable APIs for consumption, leveraging sources of truth like the community of Network to Code's supported Nautobot platform with a single pane of glass into all of the realms of AI-enabled observability with Selector.ai.
From provisioning and configuration to security policy enforcement, automation empowers IT professionals to focus on strategic initiatives rather than routine, time-consuming tasks.
Advantages of Automation:
- Reduced Human Error: Automation eliminates the potential for human error in network provisioning and security policy enforcement.
- Improved Efficiency: Automated tasks can be executed faster and more consistently, leading to improved efficiency.
- Resource Optimization: IT staff can shift their focus from repetitive tasks to strategic projects, optimizing resource allocation.
In conclusion, network convergence, segmentation, and automation form an inseparable triad that will shape the future of IT. Organizations that embrace these pillars will be better equipped to meet the demands of a digital world that shows no signs of slowing down. ONUG served as a platform for sharing insights, experiences and best practices to help businesses navigate a myriad of transformative journeys successfully.
On top of these trends, the power of community-driven discussions, technology-driven working groups and industry leaders on both sides, providers and consumers of technology-driven platforms and outcomes makes for a very worthwhile visit to future editions of ONUG. We hope to see you in Dallas in May!