You might think that firewalls and SD-WAN are two completely unrelated technologies. However, integrating these innovations improves network availability, optimizes network performance, and adds an extra layer of security to your organization. Learn more about firewalls and SD-WAN and why you should combine them.
The relationship between firewalls and SD-WAN
Firewalls and SD-WAN provide network security and management benefits but do it in different ways. A firewall enforces rules determining the security of outgoing and incoming network traffic, while SD-WAN enhances and manages traffic by directing it through the best available route. While many people working in IT use these technologies separately, you can integrate them for more secure and successful network performance.
Integrating the two technologies
Combining a firewall with SD-WAN requires multiple steps. First, you must determine your network’s security and performance requirements and choose a firewall that integrates with an SD-WAN device. Then you need to physically connect your chosen firewall with the device and configure security policies on the firewall. That helps you decide which network traffic to approve or block. You also need to determine network optimization procedures in your SD-WAN device.
Testing your integration and monitoring your network is critical. The best network monitoring tools, like LogicMonitor’s LM Envision platform, evaluate and visualize the performance and security of your entire network infrastructure, helping you identify and minimize issues that could impact your organization. LogicMonitor’s platform provides real-time network monitoring, letting you troubleshoot problems as they happen.
Advantages for network security and management
Combining firewalls and SD-WAN provides multiple benefits for network security and management. Integrating these technologies improves security by safeguarding internal and perimeter network layers. Your firewall protects your network infrastructure from external threats, while your SD-WAN device protects against dangers from incoming traffic.
Integrating firewalls with SD-WAN will also streamline network management, allowing you to focus on other IT tasks. You can benefit from a centralized network management system that ensures availability and reduces component failures.
Next, let’s take a look at the individual benefits of these two technologies:
A firewall is a network security device or software that observes and manages incoming and outgoing network traffic based on your preferred security parameters. It serves as a gatekeeper between your network and another network like the internet. Using a firewall can prevent unauthorized access to your network.
Firewall functions in different ways. Firewalls monitor network packets and compare them to your security protocols, deciding which packets should pass through your network. It also prevents your network from accessing specific ports, which is an old-school way of making it more difficult for bad actors to infiltrate your network and steal sensitive data.
Other firewall functionality includes network address translation (NAT) which allows an internal network device to hide its IP address on the internet. NAT technically can hide an internal network device’s IP, but the primary purpose of NAT is to allow many (internal) hosts to access another network (usually the public internet) with the same address, so NAT is not quite “firewall” functionality.
In a modern environment, firewall solutions that go along with SD-WAN typically operate on zones and applications, and abstract a lot of the IP/Port concepts of older firewalls.
Firewall types include stateful inspection firewalls that inspect network packets and monitor connections between devices. Application layer firewalls examine network traffic at the application layer of a network based on the services and applications you use. Next-generation firewalls have extra security features such as URL filtering and intrusion prevention. Recently, cloud firewalls, which monitor network traffic in cloud applications, have become more popular.
Importance in network security
Firewalls are important because they protect your valuable data from hackers and ensure your network is safe and reliable. Bad actors can distribute malware and distributed denial of service attacks after finding network vulnerabilities, making firewalls one of the most important additions to your tech stack.
SD-WAN stands for Software-defined Wide Area Network. It uses software to spread network traffic across a wide area network and maintain network speeds and connectivity.
SD-WAN functions by controlling how network traffic passes through locations. SD-WAN typically requires physical hardware and uses software to decide the best route for network traffic in real-time based on performance and bandwidth.
Traditional WAN at scale usually requires large amounts of money for MPLS circuits, which are like toll roads that provide reliable, safe, critical internet connections between two points.
SD-WAN is highly regarded because it takes many “commodity” internet connections (COX business accounts, home connections, satellites, MPLS, etc.), and it automatically manages traffic between them to give you an experience like MPLS for much less cost and hassle.
SD-WAN improves network performance. Ultimately, SD-WAN enhances traffic so the applications and services you use work properly. It also offers multiple security advantages. You can create security procedures through a single virtual platform, making it easy to review network activity and identify threats.
Importance in network management
Another benefit is simplified network management. You can customize and manage WANs with software rather than dealing with a traditional WAN through physical hardware. That can save time and costs for your organization and make it easier to administer and operate your network.
Firewalls and SD-WAN have many differences, but combining them can improve network performance, management, and security. Doing so can prevent cyberattacks and ensure the applications you use operate smoothly. After integrating these technologies, monitor your network with LogicMonitor, which provides full visibility into your entire network infrastructure in a single pane of glass.