A leader’s four tips to secure digital transformation

By Shane Buckley

Guarantee your digital transformation success and keep your data safe, according to these lessons from Gigamon COO Shane Buckley.

The digital transformation journey can feel like an endurance challenge for IT leaders, not to mention a massive expense. DX spending is predicted to reach nearly $2 trillion in 2022, according to IDC.

Application-centric visibility is key to achieving this vision. By better visualising, isolating, and understanding application interaction and usage patterns, government agencies can accelerate secure deployment of their digital applications.

But getting there requires transforming rapidly. This isn't an easy feat when DX involves complexities like public, private, and hybrid cloud infrastructure and a new breed of multi-tier applications that need to be managed and secured. IT teams have to be able to run fast networks during DX while navigating everything from changing IT environments, regulatory challenges, and security demands in the context of escalating cybercrime.

From my experience as COO at network visibility, security and analytics provider Gigamon, here are four insights that can help see your way to DX success:

1. Create a championship culture from top to bottom.

Any organisation can take a cue from great sports franchises that develop and maintain a winning culture. Digital transformation is a business imperative and is built on strong technology underpinnings, ultimately focused on driving the culture of the organisation.

[blockquote]You have to deliberately become a data-driven culture in every aspect from top to bottom.[/blockquote] It starts at the board and C-level team with a vision of what you want the company to be in five years, and then determining whether or not you have the culture, people, and resources to get there. You have to deliberately become a data-driven culture in every aspect from top to bottom and treat cybersecurity as a strategic business enabler rather than an obstacle, in order to win at DX.

2. See everything that goes on in your networks, all the time.

Clear visibility of your network traffic is just as important as any other technical skills. Malware moves and data exfiltration happens across the network in stealth mode — not to mention the complexity of applications operating on-premises, in the cloud, or both.

Having a clear line of sight into your agency’s network and application layers lets you visualise your infrastructure, what is running on it, and how applications are performing and interacting with each other — and from there, extract kernels of insight to guide your DX efforts.

3. Understand how to manage complex tiered applications with the right data.

The new breed of digital applications requires turning complexity into cohesion — and doing so fast. I'm referring to applications with multiple tiers, where each tier is scaled out and there's a set of microservices. Some of these applications are built in-house, others are built externally, and some come from open source.

When the components are sandwiched together, complexity escalates rapidly, which ultimately manifests itself as challenges around securing the applications, as well as ensuring consistent performance and experience. The key to keeping things under control is having the right kind of data to help you understand the interaction, performance, and security characteristics of these applications.

4. Respond to problems quickly and effectively.

Whatever the application architecture, once in deployment, something at some point is bound to go awry. You need to figure out what's happening and quickly course-correct — but when you're scaling microservices, it's hard to troubleshoot just through application monitoring alone.

By analysing the network traffic pertaining to these applications, you get immediate actionable data points that can be used to address trouble spots and understand security implications as well. Gigamon provides NetOps and SecOps teams with the ability to isolate specific applications or microservices communication streams for deeper inspection. This approach would allow the security operations to easily understand access patterns and put in place effective response strategies.

Shane Buckley is President and Chief Operating Officer of Gigamon with responsibility for expanding the company's business and markets worldwide. This article was reproduced and edited with permission and originally published here.