Microsoft re-entering network security and slowly but surely ditching Active Directory brand
After more than a decade, Microsoft appears to be reentering the competitive network security market, currently dominated by established networking players such as Fortinet, Palo Alto Networks, and Cisco. Additionally, there are other notable contenders in the market, including Netscope, Zscaler, Cato Networks, and other vendors focusing on Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) solutions.
However, Microsoft is framing its new network security offering entirely under the existing identity portfolio called Microsoft Entra. They are positioning this as an identity-centric solution, aligning with the Secure Service Edge (SSE) and SASE architectures, aimed at replacing VPN and other on-prem legacy approaches.
At present, specific details about the new solution are scarce (public preview). However, it seems that the solution will be delivered as a service, with endpoint clients playing a crucial role in traffic steering and policy enforcement (all based on Entra provided identity).
In the same announcement, Microsoft also unveiled a rebranding of Azure Active Directory as Entra ID, indicating a shift away from the Active Directory brand. This move is welcomed, considering that traditional Active Directory on-prem has few similarities with Azure AD, both from functionality and positioning perspectives. Nonetheless, any rebranding endeavor carries some inherent risks.
Customers should take notice that Active Directory on-prem is rapidly becoming an outdated component of their IT infrastructure, with even less investment ahead.
Nevertheless, the news is both interesting and encouraging, as it further validates the significance of SASE, SSE, and Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) architectures, proving they are more than mere acronyms.