Barry Assaf had a dilemma on his hands. As the Director of Nexon Asia Pacific, a Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP), and a Palo Alto Networks NextWave Channel Program Silver Partner, he wanted to grow the business by launching a new cloud-based service called: Agile Business Cloud (ABC). “Our goal was to become a cloud integrator and move the infrastructure of new and existing customers to the cloud,” says Assaf. “This would make our customers’ networks and operations more effective, improve performance, lower costs, decrease time-to-market for their products — and help drive a new revenue stream for Nexon.” ABC would provide centralized virtual services to Nexon’s customers. “It’s designed to deliver a highly secure and reliable connection from our data centers to a client’s MPLS network, so they can seamlessly add new, or transition existing applications to the cloud over our high-performance network,” says Assaf.
Several obstacles stood in the way of making ABC a reality. “It was essential that our service give customers the same or better level of security they already enjoyed in their private networks,” says Assaf. Nexon’s current platform only provided perimeter security. “It couldn’t address the entire security spectrum and the cloud,” says Assaf. “It also required our customers to have numerous additional, separate, remote access security solutions on site for threat prevention, URL filtering and more.”
Nexon’s existing security platform placed other constraints on the company’s vision for a new cloud service as well. “It only provided basic security policies, and we wanted advanced functions and easier management and access,” says Assaf. “Since we’re also an ISP, better throughput was definitely a goal. Another area of interest was finding something that would more easily manage VPN clients because this is often an issue for customers.”
Finding Safe Waters and Diving In
Nexon needed a modern, multifaceted, next-generation security platform to protect its ABC cloud service, and to enable it to offer hosted/managed firewall services. It had a lot riding on a move to a new solution. “Investing in a new technology would incur cost and involve some risks,” says Assaf. “How would our customers react to a new security platform? Ease of management, security capabilities, the speed of deployment, and customer onboarding were all concerns as well.”
“Palo Alto Networks delivered the high level of security, fast onboarding, and comprehensive functionality, all integrated into one complete platform that enabled us to offer new secure cloud services to customers. After just eight months, cloud services account for a quarter of all of our revenue,” says Assaf.
Identifying the right security platform was paramount to Nexon because the success of its ABC cloud business hinged on making the correct choice. Assaf and his team heard about the Palo Alto Networks next-generation security platform, and checked it out. Consisting of a Next-Generation Firewall, Threat Intelligence Cloud, and Advanced Endpoint Protection, the security platform delivers application, user, and content visibility and control, as well as protection against known and unknown cyber threats. The Threat Intelligence Cloud piece provides central intelligence capabilities and automates the delivery of preventative measures against cyberattacks.
“We did our homework, evaluated how the Palo Alto Networks PA-5050 next-generation firewall works, and ensured it met all of our requirements,” says Assaf. “What jumped out was its visibility and integrated functionality. With the firewall and our Threat Prevention, URL Filtering, and GlobalProtect subscriptions, we have a single, natively integrated platform to protect all of our customers, and their users, through one simple monitoring and reporting interface. We’d been looking for one platform that could provide a complete security solution for a very long time.” Native integration means the pieces were purpose-built to work together and talk to each other, thereby reducing the security gap.
Nexon found Palo Alto Networks approach to security unique and innovative. “Because the Palo Alto Networks platform is based on application identification, it delivers extensive visibility, more tuned to secure today’s application-intensive computing environments,” says Assaf. “App identification is a significant benefit and a clear product differentiator compared to legacy firewalls.”
Through one comprehensive Palo Alto Networks platform, Nexon recognized that it could gain superior network visibility and stronger security for its ABC cloud service. “It was a bit of a leap of faith to switch security platforms, but after testing, we were very comfortable with the stability, security and capabilities of Palo Alto Networks,” says Assaf.
New Service Takes Flight
Nexon purchased and deployed two Palo Alto Networks PA-5050 firewalls, including Threat Prevention, URL Filtering, and GlobalProtect subscriptions, and Panorama centralized management. GlobalProtect mobile security service extends the safe application enablement of Nexon customer’s policies to all users, regardless of location or the device used for access.
Panorama management provides centralized command and logging capabilities for Nexon to easily manage, monitor, and update all security devices from one location and interface. “The deployment was quite easy and painless, relative to our experiences with other vendors,” says Assaf. “We did it all pretty quickly and without any significant training or overhead.”
The Cloud Soars Down Under
Nexon launched its Agile Business Cloud (ABC) service. “Onboarding customers with Palo Alto Networks has been quite smooth and twice as fast as before,” says Assaf. “It has really facilitated our ability to scale. In just six to eight months since deploying Palo Alto Networks, we’ve onboarded 25 customers to ABC, including accounting firm Moore Stephens Sydney, and 24/7 mission-critical call center provider Customers 1to1. Since conceiving ABC, our cloud business has gone from zero revenue to now account for a fifth of our entire business. Palo Alto Networks played an integral role in this.”
Customer satisfaction and throughput has increased with the move to Palo Alto Networks. “Clients say their services are running a lot faster since we installed Palo Alto Networks,” says Assaf. “I like that service didn’t degrade as we activated more features.”
Nexon, and its customers, are benefiting in other ways as well. “Before, customers had to have their own filtering and other security solutions on premise, and we’d have to run a separate remote access server for them,” says Assaf. “The rich functionality of Palo Alto Networks enabled us to remove these devices from their infrastructure, which has increased operational efficiencies by 50 percent.”
“An ideal partner is one that is supportive, listens, is open to discussing your technical and business requirements, and is responsive — that’s Palo Alto Networks. We have been very impressed with their team – and the capabilities of their security platform — since day one,” says Assaf.
Panorama centralized management gives Nexon a single interface for visibility across all of its firewalls and subscriptions. “This is good for us, but it really helps customers with reporting and compliance requirements,” says Assaf. GlobalProtect mobile security is also delivering results for Nexon and its clients. “We use GlobalProtect on our platform, and some customers have it in their environments,” says Assaf. “Managing VPN clients used to be problematic for lots of our customers. GlobalProtect allows us to offer them a VPN solution that reduces overhead, complexity, and the time required to manage remote end users and keep systems up to date. It’s been very effective, and doing it all from one platform is great.”
Ready for More
Nexon isn’t done with finding new ways to help its clients — and its business — with the Palo Alto Networks security platform. “Rolling out ABC was just the first phase in our plans for Palo Alto Networks,” says Assaf. “The next phase is to launch security services for on-premise customers, where we’ll help them manage and use the Palo Alto Networks platform.”
The MSSP also envisions new services around GlobalProtect. “We’re developing some MDM and traffic management offerings with Palo Alto Networks GlobalProtect and identity management, and the Aruba Networks platform,” says Assaf. “We’re also looking at ways to use Splunk with Palo Alto Networks to benefit our customers. Another focus is creating an endpoint solution, based on Palo Alto Networks Traps™ Advanced Endpoint Protection, to overcome legacy antivirus shortcomings and prevent exploits from compromising endpoint devices.”
Teamwork Delivers for Nexon’s Customers
The partnership between Palo Alto Networks and Nexon has been mutually beneficial. “Our interaction with Palo Alto Networks has been very positive from the first engagement,” says Assaf. “It’s refreshing how open they’ve been to our requirements and what we’re trying to accomplish. It’s challenging to invest in a different platform, and we had concerns about how quickly we could come up to speed to onboard customers. However, we’ve received comprehensive support from both Palo Alto Networks account and technical teams. We got it all on site, configured, and received excellent support, as well as the information we needed and lots of attention.”
Palo Alto Networks has delivered on everything Nexon hoped for when they put their trust — and the launch of their cloud business — in the hands of the next-generation security company. “We got a complete platform in Palo Alto Networks, which is strategically very important to us, and it’s delivered in all the areas needed,” says Assaf. “We’ve gotten visibility into threats at the app level, and to see what users are doing. The fact that everything is integrated into one platform with one reporting interface — and that we can scale and onboard customers without any impact on performance or the need for more overhead — is simply fantastic.”
The decision to go with Palo Alto Networks has produced the results Nexon desired. “In just eight months since deploying Palo Alto Networks, we’ve been able to onboard customers and get a strong return on our investment, and our forecast for further growth is strong. We’re very impressed with Palo Alto Networks and with the growth of our business.”