Guest Column | November 25, 2021

Enhancing 5G/LTE Performance And Security With SD-WAN

By Jon Bove, Fortinet


The 5G/LTE mobile network changes the way people do their jobs and connect to corporate networks. It expands the frequency ranges that devices can leverage, giving individuals more access to faster data speeds and better user experiences. To help customers enjoy these benefits, however, partners must ensure this fast, flexible connectivity is built, managed, and secured similarly to other networks. This is where SD-WAN comes into play. By deploying this technology to enable 5G and LTE links at the branch and edge, partners can help their customers to save money while also enabling the simplicity and security needed to protect data and ensure employee productivity.

Expanding The Network Edge

Organizations continue to deploy more connected devices, leveraging 5G/LTE capabilities for enhanced business outcomes. To achieve those outcomes, partners must help their customers manage and secure these network connections. However, these security strategies are often more complex than companies may realize. Few current devices support 5G, and even fewer applications deliver the performance levels 5G offers.

Companies seeking to leverage the power of 5G/LTE – and that have distributed environments – face several new challenges for organizations trying to use conventional networking approaches to manage the security and reliability at this new edge. The challenges for distributed environments can include:

  • The increased number and type of devices can make it difficult to monitor and secure
  • Continuous connectivity is required to ensure competitiveness and the productivity needed to maintain competitiveness
  • The potential inability to deploy cable/DSL everywhere while maintaining continuous uptime
  • The need to find substitutes for MPLS that no longer meet current business needs

Smart networks offer protection at the expanded and distributed network edge because they incorporate decisions made at the network/connectivity level to evaluate end-user performance capabilities, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and application performance requirements. Partners who want to expand their service offerings in response to these new edges must offer the speed and protection their customers need.

Reliable SD-WAN for Network Reliability and Business Continuity

Partners must offer broad, integrated, and automated solutions that ensure maximum performance and interconnectivity to garner customer satisfaction. And as technologies become more interconnected, the SD-WAN solutions that organizations deploy must provide the computing capabilities needed for modern business, including the ability to work with cellular LTE infrastructures, like 3G and 4G, and the newer 5G connections.

Last but certainly not least, partners must provide solutions that avoid excessive internet data consumption while providing greater internet traffic control to optimize wide-area connections. By providing these capabilities, partners can build more robust, scalable solutions that drive customer adoption and increase their revenue opportunities.

Integrated Security And Networking For Securing Distributed Networks

Network speed and reliability is a primary productivity concern and security is a primary business operational concern. Securing 5G/LTE connections can often lead to slower network speeds, which then leads to concerns around productivity and consumer experiences. Inspecting encrypted traffic to mitigate data breach risks can create bottlenecks depending on the solution, for example. Meanwhile, the volume of encrypted traffic continues to increase, further complicating issues.

An SD-WAN solution must seamlessly integrate networking and security, so that when a connection changes, both networking and security work as a single, consolidated system. For example, point-of-sale (PoS) systems in retail stores must meet strict security and compliance requirements, like those in the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). They must also be reliable and quick to deliver on the expected consumer experience.

These factors should be top of mind for partners. SD-WAN implementations that integrate networking and security enable customers to move beyond MPLS and adopt public broadband, 4G/LTE, and 5G connectivity without sacrificing security. Partners that want to remain at the forefront of their market must understand how to solve these challenges and provide the services that enable their customers.

Application Awareness And Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFW) Increase Revenue

When partners offer SD-WAN solutions, they should consider both application awareness for speed and a next-generation firewall (NGFW) for security as an integrated solution.

Automated Path Intelligence: Application awareness, with automated path intelligence, prioritizes routing across network bandwidth, taking applications and users into account. Automated path intelligence selects the best connection, ensuring enhanced speed, reliability, and business continuity. The data reliability delivers better user experiences for business-critical applications, such as voice and video conferences.

A primary value-add of SD-WAN is that it delivers the cost-performance benefits of internet-based VPNs without requiring customers to sacrifice the performance and agility of their MPLS VPNs.

Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFWS): NGFWs not only reinforce security protections and policies but also enable customers to meet compliance needs. From a security perspective, NGFWs offer traffic inspection web filtering services, threat protection, and scalable overlay VPN tunnels.

NGFWs also offer the level of reporting needed to meet increasingly stringent compliance mandates. Partners offering an NGFW highly integrated within their SD-WAN can provide customers with the tracking and reporting capabilities that reduce compliance risks, including the potential for fines and legal fees.

Offering customers compliance capabilities can provide a way to overcome sales hurdles at the senior leadership level. Proving your company can provide services that help automate compliance audits is key to increasing revenue, especially as governments and industry organizations focus more intensely on security and privacy.

Partner And Customer Success With Reliable Edge Networks

Providing products and services that meet customers’ evolving needs ensures long-term relationships. When looking to differentiate themselves, partners must address these new expanded network edge challenges, especially when it comes to 5G and LTE.

Offering a suite of services that combines intelligent SD-WAN with the benefits of an NGFW solves the problems customers face as their networks expand. SD-WAN with automated path intelligence provides customers with the reliability, speed, and business continuity they need to optimize productivity. Reinforcing these services with an NGFW builds security and compliance directly into the offerings. Providing a complete set of services that enables customer workforces to have frictionless access without compromising security means that partners can create a holistic solution that drives their business results.

Partners must offer future-focused, cost-effective, scalable solutions for their customers for revenue growth opportunities. By meeting all customer needs at the technical and business levels, partners can create the set of offerings that drive customer - and their own - success.

About The Author

JonJon Bove is the vice president of channel sales at Fortinet, Inc. (FTNT). In this capacity, Bove and his team are responsible for strategizing, promoting, and driving the channel sales strategy for partners in the United States as we seek to help them build successful – and profitable – security practices. A 17-year veteran of the technology industry, Bove has held progressively responsible sales, sales leadership, and channel leadership positions. During his time at Fortinet, he has been responsible for establishing Fortinet's national partner program and aligning Fortinet's regional partner strategy to allow partners to develop Fortinet security practices with the tools and programs to successfully grow their business.