What does East-West mean in an atomized network?

What does East-West mean in an atomized network?

By Matt Wilson, Vice President of Product Management

In traditional computing environments, we have used compass points to describe network traffic. We had what was outside the firewall and what was inside the firewall and a handful of defined entry and exit points. What crossed these points, we called it north-south traffic. Everything that happened behind the firewall, we called it east-west traffic. But now, in the new reality of enterprise networks, there is no longer such a clearly defined perimeter, so those cardinal points no longer apply neatly.

Two things happened that make this approach obsolete.

  1. The number of north-south boundary points or edge points has increased dramatically, and what constitutes the Internet versus an organization’s network is beginning to blur. Think of SD-WAN networks where any number of transport services, including the Internet, can be used to extend the corporate network and connect users, wherever they are, to applications and data. The world has become blurrier because what is not ours is used to transfer what is ours.
  2. East-west traffic, what happens behind the “defined edge”, is in an even more hazy state because what is ours is no longer just inside our protected network. Data and applications are dispersed in a highly distributed environment, not just geographically from office to office and data center to data center. With the cloud, we can also have hundreds of cloud instances on one cloud or hundreds of instances on multiple clouds. And in the SaaS world, someone else hosts and manages an implementation that holds our data on someone else’s infrastructure. People are also working from home using personal devices. According to the policies, these devices can access many things that do not belong to us, and when they connect to our SaaS applications or the backend infrastructure of our internal applications, they become internal and allow us to manage and secure them.

Changing our view of the world
The traditional east-west vision no longer really exists. It’s definitely more ethereal. We can no longer point to a place and say that something exists in that physical space. We are now dealing with a dynamic environment that spans clouds, instances in clouds, untethered endpoints, and physical spaces. Welcome to the atomized network and understanding what is in our domain and what we control, versus what is general internet connectivity, has become much more nebulous.

Making sense of the chaos so we can visualize, manage access, and secure ever-expanding networks and thousands of points spread everywhere is hugely complex. We need a new way of thinking and approaching this new reality, which means new tools. This is where Netography comes in.

Our SaaS-based universal platform provides complete network visibility for real-time and retrospective attack detection across your entire footprint. A single portal provides a unified view of data from all devices in your on-premises, hybrid, and cloud environments, including Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, IBM Cloud, Microsoft Azure, and Oracle Cloud. With visualizations, you can see who is talking to whom and identify traffic moving between your on-premises, cloud, and multi-cloud networks, and to SaaS applications and internal applications. Visibility of lateral movement across your entire domain allows you to identify abnormal behaviors within your domain. And threat detection models make it easy to detect once and for all. protect anywhere in minutes. You can also customize answers and fixes to automate the protection of your environment, regardless of infrastructure.

Visibility is dangerously low in today’s cloudy environment and traditional compass points can only take us so far. Netography offers a new way of seeing the world as it exists today and brings clarity to chart the way forward.