High profile hacking incidents have frequented news headlines on an increasing basis for years. They threaten customers, business reputations and valuations in some cases. As a result, businesses are increasingly and rightly concerned about protecting their networks, systems and data from intruders and their businesses from unpredictable, damaging liabilities related to intrusion and data theft. Virtual customer premises equipment solutions (vCPE) have emerged to address pragmatic security concerns with an approach that also aligns with the more general migration of IT and network functions to the cloud. vCPE provides useful alternatives for businesses to access sophisticated security technology while reducing time and cost to deploy as well as effort to keep their security technology up to date.
A centralized vCPE approach concentrates most functionality in a service provider’s data center, requiring only a thin CPE implementation on a customer’s premises. In the security realm, firewalls and VPNs are well suited to the centralized approach. These are extremely common functions from which even very small businesses can benefit. Rather than procuring, deploying and maintaining sophisticated devices on site - an effort some businesses have abandoned at their peril because of cost and complexity – the centralized approach makes a firewall or VPN capability a service to which a business can subscribe on a self-serve basis and deploy rapidly at a cost it can digest.
The distributed approach is a bit more sophisticated. It centers on a universal CPE device located on the customer premises. In this model, the vCPE services are hosted on the universal CPE device which still makes a variety of services and function available on a self-service basis. It also, however, gives the business customer a highly resilient, high performance means of providing security services for specific sites. Functions such as perimeter security and intrusion detection are well suited to this model.
An important differentiator for a vCPE solution is its access to a digital marketplace of services which a customer can choose from and deploy in just a few clicks. The digital experience aspect cannot be overlooked. A primary benefit of virtualized services is accelerated time to market of which a strong, self-service driven customer experience is an inherent component.
In the digital environment, customers expect to be able to choose from a variety of service options which can be delivered immediately. Service virtualization enables this expectation to be met, but only if the service solution – like a vCPE solution – is accompanied by a strong self-service portal, an underlying orchestration capability that enables services to be delivered rapidly and continuously and a robust marketplace of fully commercialized virtual services. In the security domain, those services should include next-gen firewalls, unified threat management, threat intelligence services, anti-virus and anti-spam tools and foundational services like DHCP, access interfaces and carrier-grade network address translation (CG-NAT). Having access to a rich set of services like these, on-demand, via a vCPE solution gives businesses a digital era answer to an ongoing challenge that dovetails well with overall cloud, time to market and expense reduction goals.
Be sure to check out how NEC/Netcracker and Juniper Networks are optimizing network security with their joint vCPE offering.
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