Cloud, Virtualization Drive Enterprise Network Complexity

Roughly 9 out of 10 IT pros feel coordination of security policy across the entire network is “essential” to the company’s defenses against attacks.

IT professionals and C-level executives are tackling increasingly complex enterprise networks, with trends such as virtualization, Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) and the cloud requiring more automation of network management, according to a survey of more than 500 IT professionals in the United States and United Kingdom by security specialist Tufin Technologies.

One-third (33 percent) of U.K. and U.S. IT and business decision-makers said their companies had suffered five or more firewall-related outages in the last year--the equivalent of nearly one every other month, with 17 percent of financial services companies reporting 11 or more outages in the last 12 months.

The survey indicated that human error is a common security issue, with one-quarter of U.K. and U.S. businesses having to re-do more than 60 percent of all firewall changes because they weren’t implemented correctly the first time.

Roughly nine out of 10 IT and business decision-makers felt that coordination of security policy across the entire network is “essential” to the overall robustness of the company’s defenses against complex attacks, and 67 percent of senior IT and decision-makers think security policy management across the network will become more automated over the next few years.

"This research shows that network security has become too complex to manually manage, especially with the introduction of new technologies such as cloud, virtualization and IPv6," said Reuven Harrison, co-founder and chief technology officer of Tufin. "The key to meeting these challenges is automation and orchestration which will increase IT agility while maintaining security and compliance across the network."

The report noted network configuration and server configuration are the IT areas most likely to become automated, and more than half (56 percent) said that system complexity was the No. 1 root cause undermining and jeopardizing IT security efforts.

Half of all respondents said the cloud would have the most impact on network security in the short term, though other key areas are network operations applications, outsourcing and virtualization--nearly half of respondents reported more than 50 percent of their network was virtualized.

In addition, 71 percent had to adopt new processes, learn new technologies and interact with new people because of trends such as cloud computing, IPv6 and virtualization. More than half (55 percent) reported these new business initiatives require security’s input, and almost one-third said they require data from new stakeholders in order to design proper security policies.

Forty-four percent said they believe IPv6 is either important or very important to their network. IPv6 is the latest revision of the Internet Protocol (IP), the communications protocol that provides an identification and location system for computers on networks and routes traffic across the Internet.

The standard is intended to replace IPv4, which still carries the vast majority of Internet traffic as of 2013, according to a study by Arbor Networks. As of September, the percentage of users reaching Google services over IPv6 surpassed 2 percent for the first time.