Edge Industry Review’s “Fireside Chats” series: talking network security with Pensando

Securing networks in the edge computing era is a challenging task. The number of nodes on the network is part of the equation, but consider that in an ‘ideal’ edge application, developers will scale the number of nodes up and down across hundreds or thousands of different locations, adding complexity to the management challenge.

The Edge Industry Review Fireside Chat series tackled network security in a conversation with Scott Stevens, CTO at Pensando about the company and how its technology is helping to secure cloud and edge computing environments.

Pensando raised over $300M to develop a new chip and software to tackle the networking market dominated by companies like Cisco. The company describes its products as enabling a new edge services model of enterprise and cloud computing. Their technology enables the programming of stateful services integrated into the network, including security services like firewalls and encryption.

Stevens explained that Pensando is building both next-generation silicon along with software and orchestration platforms to deliver infrastructure services required for data center buildouts. Those services could run anywhere, including edge data centers, large data centers, or hyperscalar data centers, Stevens said.

“When we think about the edge, we’re thinking about the edge between compute and the fabric,” Stevens told EdgeIR.

“From a networking perspective, the edge is as close to the user as possible from a compute perspective. The edge is right next to that server…or at the edge where the fabric Interconnects to the workload itself, Stevens explained.

Pensando adds the computational power to handle security functions that have normally been handled by separate appliances in addition to handling networking functions. The result is better integration of security into the network while reducing energy consumption. Pensando’s Policy and Services Manager is the software component that brings intent-based networking to policy management — a tool that will help enterprises with implementing Zero Trust architectures while also supporting other security functions such as encryption.

“Zero Trust is about inspection of flows. Encryption is about obfuscation of traffic — hiding what it is as it transmits on the network,” Stevens said. They’re both very relevant. They’re different conversations. And we obviously have the ability to support both of those use cases.”

“The ability to encrypt and decrypt at line rate without impacting the performance of whatever it is I’m doing is really powerful, especially in those distributed environments that you’re talking about,” he said.

Stevens also talked more broadly about related topics such as:

  • The role he sees the company playing in security.
  • Steven’s thoughts on how should enterprises think of network and application security in this era of distributed computing.
  • The implications of placing encryption, policy management capabilities, and other programmed security services outside of the traditional cloud and enterprise data center environments.
  • How Pensando’s technology meshes with current approaches to security like Zero Trust.

The company has since been acquired by AMD for $1.9B, highlighting the importance and size of the opportunity that Pensando is addressing. For the full interview, visit our YouTube channel.

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