Improving enterprise efficiency through integrating networking and security systems.

Apurva Mehta, CTO of Versa Networks, sheds light on his pivotal role, extols the advantages of unified Secure Access Service Edge (SASE), and delves into the profound impact that Artificial Intelligence (AI) holds for the cybersecurity industry.

Apurva Mehta, together with his brother Kumar, founded Versa Networks in 2013, where he now serves as the esteemed Chief Technical Officer (CTO). Versa Networks stands as a leading company in the field of network and cybersecurity.

According to Mehta, the idea for Versa Networks was born while he was serving as the CTO and chief architect at Juniper Networks’ Mobility Business Unit.

Kumar and I observed a growing demand among organizations for a cutting-edge networking and security services solution. We discovered that they were seeking a software-defined solution that offered programmability, native integration with the cloud, and adaptability to the latest software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications.

“We began Versa Networks for this fundamental reason.”

What major challenges do you encounter in today’s IT environment and what measures are you taking to overcome them?

Returning to the office poses a significant challenge for IT and security teams. As a result of being compelled to work remotely, zero trust has emerged as the prevailing security strategy for the majority of companies.

Nevertheless, as our need for social interaction persists, numerous workers are opting to work from office spaces for a few days each week. Recent data indicates that by the end of 2022, 53% of workers in the US were adopting a hybrid approach. Consequently, our strategy for zero trust must be revised accordingly.

While the zero-trust approach has been highly effective for remote work, it has not fully adapted to the shift back to office environments. Since zero trust is primarily cloud-delivered, it tends to become dormant when users are on-site, leaving them vulnerable to less secure perimeter-based security or network access control (NAC) solutions. This can present considerable challenges for organizations, jeopardizing their access security and weakening their overall security posture.

Networking performance is impacted, in addition to security. Tasks like inline security inspection are often carried out in the cloud or at the perimeter, leading to potential slowdowns. Furthermore, the increased bandwidth and processing requirements result in higher IT costs.

Our response to this issue involves the integration of ZTNA [Zero Trust Network Access] and software-defined local area network (SD-LAN), a strategy we refer to as ‘Zero Trust Everywhere’. This fusion brings together the security foundations of zero trust with the adaptability and productivity of SD-LAN. With this innovative approach, organizations can uphold a robust security stance while providing users with a Swift and seamless experience.

I would like to hear your perspective on the impact of digital transformation in our industry. What steps is your company taking to embrace this change?

The rapid shift to the cloud driven by digital transformation continues to push a large number of applications, with no indication of slowing down. This transformation has fundamentally altered our approach to network and security, rendering the old paradigm of separate solutions obsolete. Businesses now demand integrated, streamlined, and simplified solutions that effectively address both networking and security needs.

In today’s interconnected world, enterprises depend heavily on networking and security. Any connectivity issues or security breaches can lead to chaos. Employees require uninterrupted access to applications around the clock, and business leaders demand constant protection against cyberattacks.

In today’s landscape, both IT and security teams are actively seeking affordable solutions that seamlessly merge the realms of security and networking. To meet this demand head-on, we have developed a groundbreaking solution: unified SASE (secure access service edge). By integrating networking and security functionalities, this cutting-edge technology offers a comprehensive approach to address this critical issue.

By implementing contextual security, unified SASE provides comprehensive protection for applications in both cloud and on-premises environments. This is crucial for enterprises, given that the widespread use of cloud applications like Gmail, LinkedIn, and Salesforce has resulted in a substantial portion of traffic flowing directly from laptops to the cloud, making it susceptible to cyber threats if not properly safeguarded. Unified SASE not only delivers secure connections, but also ensures high connection speeds, thus enhancing user satisfaction.

In recent years, sustainability has become a pivotal goal for businesses. What are your insights on how this can be tackled from an IT standpoint?

Sustainability is crucial in the IT industry and requires every company’s attention. It’s vital for businesses to proactively develop and implement programs and initiatives geared towards minimizing their environmental footprint.

At Versa Networks, we have reduced our environmental impact through waste reduction, as well as conservation and preservation campaigns. However, environmentalism is not just one project or initiative and then forgotten about, but a process that businesses should continually seek to improve.

What major tech trends do you think are shaping the world and your industry in particular?

The development of AI and ML is undeniably the most thrilling trend in big tech. The introduction of AI has completely transformed the cybersecurity industry, empowering security teams to automate processes and swiftly respond to cyberthreats. This has dramatically enhanced their ability to minimize the impact of attacks on business operations and maintain a rapid pace in safeguarding against potential threats.

Thanks to the rapid development of AI and machine learning, organizations can automate non-critical tasks, becoming more agile and reducing their mean time to innocence (MTTI). In the realm of cyberthreats, every second counts, especially when it comes to ransomware. The ability to react instantly and contain a cyberattack can mean the difference between a business swiftly recovering operationally, financially, and reputationally, or facing irreparable damage.

By harnessing the appropriate platforms and solutions integrated with AI and ML capabilities, businesses can stay ahead of the threat landscape, safeguard themselves from malicious actors, and establish adaptable infrastructure to accommodate evolving conditions.

How do you propose to tackle the security challenges that the industry is currently grappling with?

The adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) devices in the business environment has skyrocketed. These devices are leveraged to streamline operations and boost productivity, but they also pose numerous security risks.

IoT devices prioritize performance and accessibility over security, which expands the attack surface and creates entry points for breaches, benefiting threat actors.

In addition, the combination of hybrid and remote work has led to the integration of employees’ home and work networks. As a result, IoT devices have become an ideal entry point for cybercriminals to launch cyberattacks. Malware that infiltrates a home network can spread to the business network and cause severe harm to an organization.

In order to tackle this issue effectively, it is imperative for organizations to achieve comprehensive visibility across all devices and implement proper network segmentation. Cutting-edge technologies like Zero Trust Everywhere and unified SASE guarantee that all endpoints are equipped with equal levels of security coverage and management capabilities. As a result, security teams are able to attain complete visibility over the entire network and the devices connected to it, allowing them to uncover hidden security gaps or vulnerable areas of the network.

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