Brown’s Bytes – The Incredible Shrinking LAN…

Welcome to Brown’s Bytes! Your weekly insight from Mobliciti’s CTO Andy Brown. Follow #brownsbytes

13th July 2018

I thought this week I’d talk about the way endpoint mobilisation and Cloud computing are driving change in the architecture of the network.

For a long time, the network in a company has been focused around the LAN vs the Internet. As is often the case, this is a position that has been built up over time.

The LAN came about before the Internet was really thought about in most companies. The need to share resources such as storage and printers drove these early implementations (I’ve still got my Netware certificates somewhere from those heady days).

The idea was basically that creating a network was so hard that anything that actually managed to connect, and work could be trusted! That was fair enough as the network security could piggy back on the physical security of the building it was in.

Over time WAN links then linked all the buildings together and the sharing became wider and wider, but the principle remained the same – anything that could connect was trusted. As the technology improved and the capacities increased it became possible to view everything on the Corporate network as a single LAN.

As such the LAN became a beast… endpoints everywhere and all trusted the same. These LANs have become global monsters for many organisations containing every PC in all offices and all the Servers in the data centre.

Even when a laptop is taken outside the LAN, companies use VPN technology to bring it straight back inside again!

Now, alongside this has been the rise of the Internet and Cloud computing. All of this sits outside the LAN. Vast fortunes are spent ensuring these resources can be consumed securely from LAN connected devices. A lot of security technology is needed to monitor and control who can access what on the internet and to check the flow of data back in from the internet (such as emails).

However, we’re at peak LAN (arguably way past it).

There are twin forces at work. I’ve spoken before about how Mobile has been a signpost to the future, in that it’s designed to live on the Internet by default – they only connect back to the LAN for specific Apps or data. Windows 10 is starting down the road for PCs also following this model.

Over time this leads to a step change in the number of LAN endpoints. Arguably you could reach a point where the only thing left on the trusted LAN is the Servers in the data centre.

However, IaaS Cloud is transforming that area also. Over time there might not even be a data centre for many companies.

You can even reach a point where there is no LAN – everything is Internet connected.

What is particularly interesting about this is the Security and Control. All the technology that’s been used to monitor and control access to resources outside the organisation becomes an overhead and barrier to change.

The old solutions are in your datacentre. The endpoints are not, nor is the data they need to access. In effect you’re tromboning the internet through a datacentre that you potentially no longer need for any other reason.

Having said that the functions that these technologies provided are still needed – the ability to monitor, protect and control traffic is still necessary (in fact even more necessary with the endpoint permanently on the Internet). The need for effective security solutions is now even higher – if nothing is on a LAN any more then nothing can be trusted anymore!

That’s where we can help – with our partner Cyren we can provide Cloud based Proxy, DNS an Email security solutions that work anywhere and that are managed through a single pane of glass… this is a key part of next generation network and endpoint security.

If you’d like to know more about how we can help with this new world and how to integrate it with your existing network for the hybrid interim future, then please do get in touch.