Modern Workplace

Sustainable profitability: The unlikely role of network architecture

Jan 12, 2023
Sustainable profitability: The unlikely role of network architecture Sustainable profitability: The unlikely role of network architecture

The future of enterprise technology is green. Enterprises all over the world are looking at how IT technology can incorporate environmentally sound principles while maintaining profitability. The intermingling of these aspirations offers a unique opportunity for a competitive advantage—one that Hydro is poised to seize. 

As one of the largest producers of hydropower in Norway, we provide our customers with innovative and sustainable energy solutions. Hydro is also a global leader in nearly every aspect of the aluminum value chain—from mining to automobile parts and energy-efficient building solutions for architects. 

At Hydro, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) principles are ingrained in our culture – because they are ingrained in the culture of the Norwegian people. This commitment extends to our IT infrastructure and security strategy: on our journey to the cloud, we’re weighing the risk, cost, and ESG impact with every decision. 

Environmental responsibility meets business sustainability

In recent years, the impact of cyber threats to businesses has been in the global spotlight, and it is now being carefully looked at through an environmental lens. As the World Economic Forum reports, “Cyber risk is the most immediate and financially material sustainability risk that organizations face today. Those that fail to implement good governance on cybersecurity, using appropriate tools and metrics, will be less resilient and less sustainable. This in turn has an impact on the other organizations they rely on, and ultimately on the stability of companies, communities and governments.” 

Traditional approaches to infrastructure and cybersecurity, such as flat networks, result in easy-to-penetrate environments that open organizations up to greater risk. In an effort to minimize this risk, it’s imperative to push out of your comfort zone and avoid the trap of complacency and of becoming a “fool with a tool” by always asking what you can do better.

A wise man learns from his mistakes as well as the mistakes of others. As a technical leader, you need to ask yourself some important questions as you embark on your digital transformation journey, where the cloud plays a prominent role in extending your IT infrastructure. Are you using your tools correctly? Are your configurations done properly? Do you have a complementary and comprehensive born-in-the-cloud security solution in place?

Reducing costs through innovation, automation, and consolidation

At Hydro, we believe that the key to cloud security is a layered approach that encompasses identity, zero trust, and the proper use of well-integrated tools. We’re taking an interdisciplinary approach that focuses on acquiring the right products and cultivating collaboration among teams to not only maintain the tools we adopt but also to push their capabilities, broaden their scope, and discover new use cases for them. 

We had one such opportunity when adopting a new cloud platform. By bringing together diverse teams of security, cloud, and network professionals during a segmentation project, we were able to lift and shift things more easily and seamlessly.

We are uniquely positioned to lower our CO2 footprint and produce the greenest aluminum in the EU and beyond. Our IT organization has become an integral part of this effort as we’ve automated tasks and reprioritized our focus to support these goals. We’ve seen the landscape—physically and technically—change quickly.  

To keep pace, flexibility in our approach and choosing partners that share our vision has been essential. We expect any partner we work with to be as committed to ESG principles as we are, and we weigh this heavily when selecting vendors. Focusing on core vendors who satisfy our requirements and work well with our teams has proven to be an effective and efficient strategy. The benefits gained from a cohesive vendor strategy far outweigh any perceived advantages of acquiring a collection of unintegrated best-of-breed tools. 

Cloud-based security supports ESG initiatives

A well-designed cloud architecture contributes to achieving our ESG goals. A critical adjunct to that is an extensible, born-in-the-cloud security platform that protects against potential loss resulting from cloud or on-premises attacks. 

Here’s an analogy: if you’re renovating a house, it goes without saying that you’re going to make sure the front door is secure. But you also want to make sure that the back door of the house is also fully secured, as intruders look for a way in via a back door. Similarly, by replacing legacy technology with a comprehensive cloud-based security services edge (SSE) solution, you will reduce the attack surface.

Cloud-based security is a significant contributor to achieving our ESG initiatives, and it appears that this perspective is rapidly gaining traction. The PricewaterhouseCooper (PWC) US Cloud Business Survey of more than 500 executives from Fortune 1000 companies shows that “60% of business leaders are using or plan to use the cloud to enhance ESG reporting and 59% use or plan to use cloud to improve their ESG strategies.”

Clearly, the role of network architecture is in transition as businesses adopt business and environmental sustainability principles and practices. One day, I foresee that network connectivity will be as simple as getting an electricity line to your home and network-as-a-service on the horizon. To keep pace with the rapid-fire change that we are experiencing in the technical, economic, and social landscape, leaders need to adopt an agile mindset and find ways to achieve seamless and secure connectivity. And when they do so, sustainability should always be top of mind. 

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