The Changing Landscape of Network and Infrastructure Security Industry

The Changing Landscape of Network and Infrastructure Security Industry

Shane Hazim, Head of Technology - Network & Infrastructure Engineering, Australia Post

Shane Hazim believes that businesses have always had to evolve to survive. Where disruption is constant and the competition unwavering, Hazim’s value lies in connecting technology with business goals and the possibilities in the field. He seeks to identify opportunities for modernizing operating models, products, and services through tech enablement and innovation, which play a crucial role in ensuring business relevance for the years to come.

Hazim is currently committed to building business performance and agility for Australia Post, helping the 200-year-old organization compete effectively in the digital age. Confident in the face of challenges and with an ability to provide calm, steadfast leadership across stakeholder groups, he develops and executes change programs that deliver quantifiable benefits.

Underpinning his strength as a technologist is a deep financial understanding and robust expertise in IT service management. Reliable, risk-aware yet outcome-focused, and commercially astute in transformation, Hazim sets in motion a compelling vision that speaks to the motivations of internal stakeholders, teams, and vendors.

How has the networking industry changed in the last 18 months? 

Prior to and during the last 18 months saw businesses moving everything to the cloud. However, they were mediating things to the cloud in the same way they’d set up their private datacenters. The setup, coupled with the cost attribution of the cloud, has resulted in an environment that is quite complex to manage.

"During the pandemic, the role of the network engineers changed dramatically from someone sitting and constantly making changes in the command-line interface (CLI) to one creating standards and deploying solutionsDuring the pandemic, the role of the network engineers changed dramatically from someone sitting and constantly making changes in the command-line interface (CLI) to one creating standards and deploying solutions"

During the pandemic, the role of the network engineers changed dramatically from someone sitting and constantly making changes in the command-line interface (CLI) to one creating standards and deploying solutions. They have transitioned into a world of codes and infrastructures where they have access to scripts that remediate, simplify, design, and deploy different types of tools.

A great example is the massive adoption of the remote working culture during the pandemic. If looked at from a modernization perspective, your previous topology would have involved you migrating from your datacenters to public clouds and then connecting all your sites and controlling the web traffic through multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) network. But a modern outlook would highlight that the central part of the network experience is no longer a facility/headquarter or a home but an end-user. This means a secure network is required for the seamless and quick movement of data from the source point to a branch, a datacenter, and lastly, the cloud. As a result, the topology of the network is currently undergoing a dramatic change, which is expected to continue in the next few years. To serve customers better, businesses are implementing modernized technologies like zero trust architecture and securing how their branches interact with the internet or through the datacenters and cloud.

The current situation is advantageous in the sense that it is showing us how to secure our remote employees as distributed data networks experience in mind and ensure the core datacenters or networks are capable of stretching its topology or virtual local access network (LAN) across public clouds and is able to transmit data as quickly as possible.

How do you think the industry has reacted to all these changes happening in the market, and how has your organization aligned its operations to it?

The “new normal” drove the industry into adopting remote working culture. As a result, everyone is leveraging the virtual private network (VPN) technology. For instance, every employee uses VPN to connect with the on-premise services and critical applications in our business. But from an organizational perspective, with our cloud-based technologies like Office 365 and Webex Communications, we’re rerouting traffic, not letting it traverse over the data center and go directly to the cloud, giving data less resistance for the optimum user experience and focusing on security at the end point.

With the onset of the pandemic and people working from home, data security is not the only topic organizations need to think about. It also includes the people around their employees, such as toddlers or kids, who might hamper the organizational network or data unintentionally. Human errors and data breaches are the two primary threats that make our systems vulnerable, so we have to take care of both.

Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) has become a buzzword today regarding network and data security. The technology combines the power of network security functions like Secure Web Gateway (SWG), Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB), Firewall-as-a-Service, and Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) with Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SDWAN) to facilitate the secure access requirements of the organization. Simply put, if you need to connect with your facility, you will get access to only what you request. For example, if you want access to the SAP, an ultimate zero-trust network would only allow you to traverse through SAP until you request something else. As a result, the enterprise network (any where data is hosted) remains secure and risk levels are lowered significantly from any unauthorized traffic.

So, our networking engineers need to elevate their game, focusing on distributed data and leverage their code abilities to automate and manage network access from anywhere whilst securing the end-users requirements.

What kind of future have you envisioned when it comes to the networking space?

The networks are going to become more disparate and unstructured. With the world adopting more connected devices and operating technologies(IoT/OT), remote work culture, and mobile offices, data can be anywhere. The future would see businesses gathering a large amount of information as quickly as possible to produce or deliver services to customers. As a result, SASE will be playing a significant role in securing these networks. Organizations will also centralize how their users and networks connect through a secured environment and leverage it from a telematics angle. They will be able to accurately locate a threat in their environment and have it automatically shut down in real-time.  

Apart from that, the network engineers will no longer be just responsible for the CLI on hardware; they’ll be constructing the latest innovative solutions that would centrally orchestrate the technologies and devices together from a security standpoint. With skills in DevSecOps frameworks, they will be responsible for bringing in new technologies and be capable of protecting systems against various kinds of threats that might come around.

What would you advise your fellow peers when it comes to systemically approaching and coordinating to this new normal?

I would suggest network engineer peers to skill themselves up with public cloud knowledge and ensure base coding languages such as Python are core in their teams toolkit. They are also recommended to learn more about what containerization is and how to create standard security patterns around that.

Not everything will shift to the cloud immediately. The world will instead adopt hybrid infrastructures, with public cloud dominance by 2030 making portability important and a requirement in future. It would help data to traverse seamlessly from a public cloud to a private and vice versa. Everything related to data will continue to be the key in the industry, from where it is housed to where it can traverse. As a result, it is essential to skill up in these disciplines.

Also, for network engineers, the role topology is not going to change much. They are always going to be the key in this industry. But they’ll be required to broaden their skills to enhance security programmability measures and set the foundation for platforms and secure data transportation. Network engineers will play an important role in building the future of security, operating technologies, and putting disparate data together. In my view, it is crucial to make sure that organizations are gearing their engineers up for the future to tackle the evolution of data security in distributed networks.

Weekly Brief

Read Also

SDN and NFV: Defining two Different Aspects of the Future of Networking

SDN and NFV: Defining two Different Aspects of the Future of Networking

Beni Sia, Regional Director, South East Asia, Brocade
Open Flow 1.3.1 and TTP: Enabling SDN for Carrier Networks

Open Flow 1.3.1 and TTP: Enabling SDN for Carrier Networks

Nicholas Ilyadis, VP & CTO, Infrastructure & Networking Group (ING), Broadcom Corporation
New SD-WAN edge enables more secure architectures

New SD-WAN edge enables more secure architectures

David Hughes, Founder and CEO of Silver Peak
The Network Economy, Fibre Investment and a Better Place to Live

The Network Economy, Fibre Investment and a Better Place to Live

Gary McLaren, CTO, Hong Kong Broadband Network Limited
Let's get Smart!

Let's get Smart!

Priya Natarajan, Head of Networking & Global Head of Service Provider GTM, Lenovo
The Changing Landscape of Network and Infrastructure Security Industry

The Changing Landscape of Network and Infrastructure Security Industry

Shane Hazim, Head of Technology - Network & Infrastructure Engineering, Australia Post