Bell: Digital transformation in cyber security and networks

Bell’s Dominique Gagnon and Giovanni Sansalone guide us through digital transformation strategy for cyber security and network evolution

Digital transformation is a critical imperative for companies across the world, but it can be a challenge to know where to begin. As observed by Giovanni Sansalone, Vice President, Product Management at Bell, for those organizations undergoing digital transformation, there are a number of factors that can impede success.

Overcoming the challenges

“The most common challenges come from initial resistance or a lack of desire to truly enact change. It’s important to have everyone accept that they need to change in order to stay competitive, either by improving on the way they serve their customers and employees or being more effective at generating awareness.” Overcoming that resistance to change, Sansalone explains, requires involvement from the leadership team to make it clear why such a digital journey is necessary.

“The second challenge we encounter is a lack of expertise needed to understand the business problem from an end-to-end perspective,” says Sansalone. “Many customers have expertise in certain areas, but when taking a holistic view, they often need to reach out and ask for advisory services in order to support them at every stage of their journey.” 

Once organizations overcome these cultural and managerial obstacles, the problem of pre-existing technology rears its head. “The question faced is: how do you enable legacy infrastructure to support the various digital assets that you're putting in place? How do you bridge the two worlds and connect and communicate between them?”

Transitioning to the cloud

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Quotables

We focus on identifying what we are trying to improve in regards to the business problem that we’re trying to solve together

Giovanni Sansalone | Vice President Product Management, Bell

One approach is transitioning to a cloud based platform. To take full advantage of cloud applications, enterprises need to decentralize access to those applications in order to provide a better user experience. “That decentralized approach, however, can be difficult to control and is more permeable from a penetration perspective. It requires a different approach, such as deploying controls in remote offices or leveraging cloud-based security.” says Dominique Gagnon, GM, Cyber Security Practice at Bell. “There are many benefits to moving to cloud-based security, including ease of operations, and cost reduction.” The compromise, however, is the introduction of latency.

The best answer is adopting a hybrid approach. As he explains, it’s clear that, while contributing enormous benefits, digital transformation and moving to the cloud comes with many challenges. That tension is exactly what Bell’s offering seeks to remedy. “We just launched, in partnership with Zscaler, a fully-managed, cloud-based, secure access service edge (SASE) internet protection service. “The benefit of our service is that we deploy Zscaler’s technology within our Bell infrastructure, giving our customers access to all of our nodes across Canada, thus helping to remove the latency challenges commonly faced by our customers who deploy a full cloud architecture,” says Gagnon.

“We’re transforming at the heart of our network infrastructure” adds Gagnon, “and virtualizing the network so that businesses can leverage the cloud - spinning up different types of services in order to adapt to the changing requirements of the business. Our innovative platform delivers network-as-a-service to its customers, giving users greater control over the way they interact with the network and how they access different services. We’ve embedded security directly into our network, so that customers can communicate with their applications, or users, in a secure manner.” 

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Key considerations for success

The first key area that companies should focus on is culture. As Gagnon points out, “organizations need to first think about the leadership that they put in place to establish a culture that’s open to necessary change and to doing things differently.” 

The second key ingredient is to focus on the business. "We have a very customer-centric approach in everything we do,” says Gagnon. “We focus on identifying what we can improve from a business perspective and how we can solve it together.” 

The third aspect involves leveraging the assets that the company has at its disposal. “The unique data and intelligence that organizations have can be used in order to further automate or improve business, delivering greater efficiency through business process automation and more”, outlines Gagnon.

And fourth “It is so important to focus on the infrastructure,” says Sansalone. “It’s vital to have an infrastructure which will be adaptive and flexible, and allows you to transform to deliver the services and business processes needed by both customers and employees. Having an adaptable infrastructure that allows you to drive that agility in the market is absolutely critical.”

Bell’s support goes further, with an online digital portal allowing participation in the end-to-end orchestration and delivery of services that customers require. “We have a strong portfolio of professional services that can help with advising clients on their journey, mapping out their processes, and then helping them support the implementation of those changes through the integration of technology and business processes,” Sansalone explains.

Bell’s cyber security strategy – a five pillar approach

When it comes to cyber security, Bell has implemented a strategy with its clients based on five pillars that reflect the key challenges organizations are facing. 

“First we provide services around what is foundational in security - the existing controls that our clients have in place,” says Gagnon. “We help them make sense of, and can bring more efficiency to, those controls. As an example, we're working with FireEye technology to allow validation of controls within an environment and simplify the traditional approach to managing security. The overall objective is to reduce complexity in existing environments, making better use of investments while improving the security posture.

The second pillar of strategy is around next-generation security information and event monitoring (SIEM). “Our clients tell us that they are not seeing the value of their legacy SIEM tools as they are not providing the security alerts expected,” says Gagnon. “We partner with Fortinet to provide the entire automated and orchestrated SIEM technology. This will improve the visibility and response to security incidents, and bring a best-in-breed and next-generation platform to the market.”

The third pillar of Bell’s strategy is around detection and response. “We partnered with FireEye to launch our Bell Managed Threat Detection and Response platform, bringing best-in-class detection capability, coupled with a world-class incident response team (Mandiant) to our clients.” 

The fourth pillar is around cloud security. “We work with best-in-class partners such as Akamai, whose high performance distributed infrastructure allows us to enhance security for our customers,” offers Gagnon. “We also partner with Cisco, FireEye and Zscaler to bring a wide range of cloud based security offerings.” 

The fifth pillar involves dealing with the increase in data due to the introduction of 5G technologies. While this is still an emerging area, careful consideration and planning will be required moving forward to ensure organizations can securely adapt. 

Gagnon and Sansalone are confident that their innovations and strategies cement Bell’s position as a leader in cyber security and digital transformation. “We see ourselves as being an important contributor to the cyber security community in the field,” Gagnon says. “We have over 400 security professionals across Canada supporting three operation centres, and we partner with the leading technology companies in Canada. That’s why we are the only communications provider recognized by the IDC Marketscape as a Canadian leader in security four years in a row.” 

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