The concept of leveraging NetSecOps has gained a lot of traction in recent year. This approach is the merging of network and security operations to foster better collaboration and alignment between traditionally distinct teams. Based on research by Enterprise Management Associates (EMA), we explore the evolution, impact, and comprehensive benefits of NetSecOps, shedding light on how this integration not only enhances security and operational efficiency but also contributes to cost savings and quicker incident resolution.

What is NetSecOps?

NetSecOps, short for Network Security Operations, is a strategic approach that involves the convergence of network and security operations within an organization. It entails breaking down the traditional silos that often exist between these two critical functions and fostering a collaborative and unified approach to managing network infrastructure and cybersecurity. NetSecOps brings together network engineers and security analysts to work cohesively, share insights, and jointly respond to the evolving challenges posed by modern cyber threats.

This collaborative approach is founded on the idea that network and security teams should not operate in isolation. Instead, they should function as a unified force, leveraging each other’s expertise and insights to enhance an organization’s overall security posture and operational efficiency.

The evolution and impact of NetSecOps

Comprehensive benefits of integrating teams

Integrating of network and security operations brings about advantages that reshape the way organizations approach their IT strategies. Among these benefits, two significant aspects stand out:

Significant reduction in security risks

In a world where cyber threats are constantly evolving and becoming more sophisticated, the collaboration between network and security teams is a strategic move towards fortifying an organization’s defenses. According to EMA’s research, a substantial 43% of the surveyed professionals noted a decrease in security risks due to this collaboration. This decrease is a testament to the value of shared insights and real-time threat detection, which becomes more achievable when these teams work in harmony.

Operational efficiency and faster problem resolution

Operational efficiency is a cornerstone of successful businesses. In the context of NetSecOps, 40% of respondents observed improved operational efficiency, and an equal percentage reported accelerated network issue resolution. This efficiency stems from the seamless coordination between network and security teams, enabling quicker identification and resolution of problems. Reduced downtime and increased productivity are direct outcomes of this synergy.

EMA’s research insights

To understand the impact of NetSecOps comprehensively, it’s essential to delve into the specifics of EMA’s research, which provides valuable insights into the adoption and influence of this approach.

Survey Demographics and Methodology

EMA’s survey involved 304 IT professionals, providing a broad perspective on the adoption and impact of NetSecOps. This diverse sample size ensures that the findings are representative of the industry as a whole, giving credibility to the results.

Degree of team convergence

One striking discovery from the research is that 49% of surveyed entities have either fully or partially merged their network and security teams. This statistic indicates a significant trend towards team integration, emphasizing the growing recognition of the benefits associated with NetSecOps. As organizations strive to stay ahead in the cybersecurity race, such convergence becomes increasingly important.

Key drivers behind the growing adoption of NetSecOps 

The adoption of NetSecOps is not arbitrary but driven by a combination of technological and strategic catalysts that are reshaping the IT landscape.

Technological and strategic catalysts

IT/Network automation as a primary driver

Automation is at the forefront of IT innovation, and it plays a central role in facilitating collaboration between network and security teams. As per EMA’s research, 40% of respondents identified their IT/network automation strategy as a crucial driver for NetSecOps. Automation streamlines processes, enabling these teams to work in unison and respond swiftly to emerging threats.

Emphasis on self-service orchestration

The desire for self-service orchestration by DevOps and application teams is a major factor driving NetSecOps adoption. An overwhelming 94% of respondents support this initiative, underlining the importance of providing teams with the tools and resources they need to manage their security requirements independently. This not only reduces the burden on IT staff but also enhances overall security posture.

Automation use cases in NetSecOps

The practical applications of automation within the NetSecOps framework are varied and impactful. Understanding these use cases provides insight into how this approach can transform an organization’s security and operational landscape.

Varied automation applications

NetSecOps leverages automation in multiple critical areas, with specific use cases such as security incident response (48%), threat isolation/remediation (44%), and network trouble remediation (39%). These applications demonstrate the versatility of automation and its ability to enhance the collaborative efforts of network and security teams.

Additional influences promoting NetSecOps

Beyond technological and strategic catalysts, several other factors are driving the adoption of NetSecOps.

Cloud computing and SASE as catalysts

Impact of hybrid and public cloud

The adoption of hybrid cloud, where organizations use a combination of private and public cloud services, is a significant driver for closer collaboration between network and security teams. EMA’s research reveals that 31% of respondents cited hybrid cloud as a driver for this alignment. The flexibility and scalability offered by the cloud necessitate a cohesive approach to network and security operations. Additionally, 84% of respondents acknowledged that public cloud adoption has increased collaboration, reinforcing the notion that cloud computing is reshaping IT practices.

SASE’s role in team alignment

Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) is emerging as a crucial component of modern network security, and it plays a pivotal role in promoting alignment between network and security teams. EMA’s research highlights SASE as a reason for increased collaboration, with 29% of respondents identifying it as a driver. The centralization of security policies and controls in a SASE framework simplifies management and ensures consistency across the organization’s network, further emphasizing the need for unified efforts.

Broader technological and business influences

NetSecOps is not an isolated concept but is influenced by broader technological initiatives and business challenges.

Periphery technological initiatives

The integration of IoT/operational technology, multi-cloud architecture, and remote/hybrid work models are also influencing the rise of NetSecOps. These initiatives introduce complexity into network and security management, making collaboration a necessity for effective operations.

Business challenges and regulatory factors

IT labor issues, skills gaps, new regulatory requirements, recent cybersecurity incidents, and budget challenges are identified as additional motivators for merging network and security operations. As organizations grapple with these challenges, the alignment of these teams becomes a strategic response to streamline operations and enhance overall enterprise defenses.

Alexander Procter

January 22, 2024

5 Min