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Betting big on software-defined security in India

Riyaz Tambe, Head, Systems Engineering, India & SAARC, Palo Alto Networks, spoke to Amit Singh about the company’s emphasis on software-defined security and the increasing opportunities for partners

Riyaz Tambe, Palo Alto1
Riyaz Tambe, Head, Systems Engineering, Palo Alto

Please explain how the security landscape is transforming in India?

India is on the fast track to modernizing the way it conducts business. Digitization has been a key mantra of the central government since the very beginning. However, digitization has also increased the vulnerability of business and financial institutions. Threats are getting bigger and hitting closer home than ever before.

There are three irreversible trends that are driving the security industry: Globalization, Digitization and Mobility. Internet is the common link among all the three trends. Today, Internet has become the business enabler but at the same time, is the most unsecure tool mankind has in its hand.

With the rapid adoption of cloud technologies and connected devices, increased awareness of security concerns will drive demand for strong and robust solutions as businesses strive to earn the trust of their customers and clients.

Furthermore, a big shift is happening in the data centers. Technologies like software-defined data center (SDDC) and software-defined networks (SDN) are enabling cloud providers, telecoms, and social media companies design the biggest data centers. It is all about agility and speed to programmatically deliver an entire application environment in minutes, and efficiency to reduce costs and automate on-the-fly changes, without human intervention. In this scenario, security has to be upgraded to make such software-defined technologies more secure. Security is an essential enabler for this change.

Software-defined security has become a buzzword today. What is the edge that software-defined security offers over traditional data and network security?

The main drivers for the shift towards software-defined architectures are agility, operational efficiency, and automation, which overall leads to cost savings. Most of the customers are moving towards a hybrid model where some workloads still remain as part of physical infrastructure, but considerable amount is now moving to either private cloud or public cloud environments. We see all types of customer segments currently adopting the hybrid model. Some are quite mature on their journey towards this model and some will gradually get there.

Software-defined security is an important ingredient for hybrid architectures. Automation and orchestration is the key to protect the dynamic environments. Traditional security is static in nature that is challenging to work with and difficult to change. Software-defined security, by contrast, introduces simplicity to the world of network security. In this model, protection is based on logical policies not tied to any server or specialized security device. Adaptive, virtualization security is achieved by abstracting and pooling security resources across boundaries, independent of where the protected asset might be residing.

What are the cost savings attached to the implementation of software-defined security solutions?

Evolution of applications and threats, coupled with the stagnation of traditional network security technology, has resulted in a loss of visibility and control. In today’s economic scenario, any further increase in cost and complexity is unacceptable.

With SDDC and SDN where the main motive is to provide agility and efficiency, having security built into these architectures help optimize RoI. Traditionally, to take care of security even in a virtualized data center, traffic has to be steered to physical security infrastructure. This had a considerable amount of cost implications and defeated the purpose of software-defined architectures. Software-defined security offers commercially and operationally more viable option with savings on operational expenses.

Please elaborate on how Palo Alto is helping partners to leverage the opportunities in software-defined security space.

As customers are moving towards a hybrid model which induces some amount of complexity and therefore needs expertise for seamless deployment. Further, considering the current threat landscape, security is one of the top priorities for all customers. This offers a great opportunity for solution providers to scale their services business.

We have come up with a next wave of channel program which allows us to train and handhold partners to grow their businesses. In fact, we are betting big on software-defined security in India. We have entered into few strategic partnerships and alliances to strengthen our portfolio:

  • We have joined forces with PwC to leverage its cyber security and privacy practice by designing a next-generation security framework to serve as a guide for organizations to establish breach prevention-oriented security architecture. This framework incorporates the latest advances in security technology and addresses the modern threat landscape.
  • We entered into global agreement with BT where we will integrate our next-generation security platform into BT’s global portfolio of security services, enabling customers worldwide to benefit from the combination of our breach prevention-focused platform and the global reach and scale of BT’s security services.
  • Further, we teamed with leading service providers in APAC to enable partners reach new revenue sources. Under this agreement, Singapore Telecommunications (Singtel) is offering its new Managed Advanced Threat Prevention Service, a unique managed security service that harnesses the expertise of Singtel and the technology of Palo Alto’s next-generation security platform, including AutoFocus contextual threat intelligence, to protect large enterprise organizations against sophisticated cyber threats.

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