What is Network Segmentation?
Network segmentation is the process of dividing a computer network into smaller subnetworks, or segments. These segments are logical groups that only allow devices to communicate with one another on the same segment.
One of the most common forms of network segmentation is through the creation of virtual LANs (VLANs), or subnets. This allows discrete broadcast domains that better control congestion and secure specific traffic flows. Administrators design VLANs to create different security zones across the network. For example, one VLAN could segment off the accounting department, while another VLAN allows basic guest Wi-Fi access. In this case, guests could not see or interact with devices or resources on the accounting network.
Network segmentation is complemented by the use of the network firewalls. A series of rules within the firewall dictate what traffic entering over a specific TCP port can go based on its origin within the network. Network segmentation can also be found in cellular networks. 5G specifically allows for network slicing, which you can think of as the cellular version of a VLAN.
Benefits of Network Segmentation
Network segmentation is often applied as a security measure, but there are plenty of other benefits that come with it.
Quality of Service
Quality of Service (QoS) describes a network’s ability to deliver a consistent level of performance and service quality for different users, applications and devices. With so many applications, devices, and use cases, QoS is often dynamic, especially in larger networks. For example, an autonomous warehouse robot requires ultra-low latency to navigate properly, while the marketing department needs high bandwidth for moving large video files.
Network segmentation enables administrators to create different networks for each use case, and then apply a customized QoS to that group. This is much easier to implement and troubleshoot than applying policies at the device level.
In the cellular world, network slicing effectively virtualizes a public cellular service or private cellular network by creating different “slices” that are dedicated to different organizations.
In other words, different parts of the same spectrum band are virtualized to segment the same network. Sliced networks can dynamically allocate cellular resources allowing more efficient QoS. In a non-sliced network, network resources are locked up until they are used, versus being dynamically allocated based on demand.
Network segmentation makes networks easier to control and secure. Having clearly defined subnets, firewall rules, and group segmentation makes troubleshooting and training significantly easier.
Security is the primary reason administrators implement network segmentation. Depending on the network design, administrators can use segmentation to make it difficult for threats to spread laterally across the network.
For example, if a trusted account is compromised in the maintenance network segment, that account would be unable to impact other segments on the network. This helps reduce the breadth of insider attacks, where a rogue employee steals information or causes malicious harm to the entire organization.
Enterprise firewalls help by automating the enforcement of security policies and admission controls for users and devices. This makes it easy for administrators to create a zero-trust environment, or enforce security policies at scale.
Network Segmentation vs. Micro-segmentation
Network segmentation and micro-segmentation are two related but distinct approaches to dividing a network into smaller subnetworks or segments.
Traditional segmentation divides large networks into smaller networks or groups. These groups are often divided up by department, role, or function. Customized security policies and QoS are then applied to these groups.
Micro segmentation, on the other hand, involves dividing network segment into small pieces or "micro segments" at a very granular level, often down to the individual device or application level. Micro-segmentation is typically used to improve security by creating smaller, more isolated segments that are more resistant to attacks and breaches and provide better control over QoS.
Micro segments help administrators enforce more granular controls and protect their assets more effectively. For example, in a micro segmented network, administrators can apply individual security and QoS policies based on the application level.
The Evolution of Network Segmentation
As enterprise networks grow in complexity, the demand for a more tailored approach to segmentation has emerged. Blanket security and QoS policies don’t work in environments with dozens of applications, complex integrations, and strict performance needs.
To meet these requirements for enterprise networks, Celona developed a patented technology called MicroSlicing, which enables granular control over cellular resources and network segmentation. Unlike traditional network slicing, MicroSlicing automatically monitors application and device traffic flows, enforcing strict QoS requirements, such as latency, throughput, and packet loss on a per application or device group basis.
In a private wireless deployment, each MicroSlice acts as its own network segment with predefined policies for that microslice continuously enforced. Administrators can map each microslice to an existing VLAN or subnet, automatically routing traffic within a microslice to an existing VLAN or subnet already created within the network.
Enterprise Network Segmentation With Celona
Celona partners with enterprises to design, build, and deploy private wireless 4G/5G networks as a seamless solution.
Our 5G LAN architecture integrates directly with your existing network security posture allowing administrators to easily integrate and synchronize QoS across the enterprise from a cloud-based console.
Behind the scenes, the Celona Edge provides proactive monitoring and ensures network service level objectives, such as throughput and latency requirements, are consistently being met.
If you’re building your network for enterprise QoS and security, Celona can help. Check out our network planner to estimate the size of your 5G LAN on the private cellular spectrum, or test-drive Celona’s unique solution for yourself with a free trial.
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