Merging Networks After An Acquisition

Securing networks is hard enough when it’s just one business, but what happens when one company acquires a smaller business or merges with a competitor? Suddenly, IT is faced with managing two networks, or possibly more if the board’s gone on a spending spree. This can be a real pain since the overarching principle has to be maintaining network stability, but at the same time upper management wants a measure of unification between the two company networks.

Some companies may prefer to keep the networks separate (especially helpful when we’re talking about an acquisition that will remain a subsidiary), but when the acquired organization is going to be absorbed by the parent company merging the two networks often makes sense.

Perimeter 81’s platform can help in either of these scenarios since we can serve as the joining point between the two company networks. This makes it much easier to bring together disparate cloud services and on-prem resources into a single network without much fuss. 

Whether it’s one, two, or three networks the basic strategy remains the same: 

A complex merge like this is never without its hiccups, but following this basic outline companies can accomplish their overall goals to achieve a unified network with relative ease. Let’s walk through this plan step-by-step using the basic scenario of a parent company acquiring a smaller organization. 

Gain Control and Visibility

The first step is to figure out what the acquired company’s network contains. This may have been done during the original M&A process; however, it’s always good to verify that all the information is still valid, and that no new services, servers, or appliances have been added or removed.

This inventory should comprise all important assets and resources inside the network such as primary data centers and the various cloud services the acquired company uses. This is not only important for gaining an understanding of what assets require management, but it can also reveal shared applications or systems with the parent company. These may help as primary transition points, or at the very least speed up some of the changeover.

Once you have an understanding of everything, and gain access in order to control those endpoints and services, the next step will move along much more smoothly.  

Move to the Perimeter 81 umbrella

Here is where we make the first major change for the acquired company. The key for now is to move everyone under one connectivity platform. This will make it easier to combine networks later, but for now it’s important to have real-time visibility over both networks. 

We recommend that IT teams define the new acquisition as its own separate network within your organization’s current Perimeter 81 dashboard. This makes it easy to view both networks from a single dashboard, and it’s the first step to getting the two networks aligned. 

The key in this step is to set-up the appropriate number of gateways for the new network. Make a list of where employees of the acquired company are located and how many are in each location.

While set-up times vary based on the size of each network, we can typically get the network for a midsize company up and running in hours. 

Now that we have two or more networks under the same umbrella we can keep them running on their own to ensure stability. As long as IT now has control over both networks and has visibility into the new organization this step can be considered a success.

Align identity providers and implement SSO

One of the wonderful things about using Perimeter 81 to align networks is that the two companies don’t necessarily need to start out with the same IdP. Perimeter 81 supports all of the major identity providers such as Azure Active Directory, Auth0, Google, Okta, OneLogin, and JumpCloud. 

To start, the company can authenticate with their current logins to maintain network stability, and then IT can start moving towards changing them over to whatever the company’s standard IdP is, if necessary. 

We make it easy to transition since your primary IdP provider is already registered with Perimeter 81. We highly recommend, however, that you use an IdP that supports SSO, which will make it easier to integrate with cloud providers and reduce the number of times employees have to login per day.

The Actual Transition

This is an optional step depending on the needs of the company, but if necessary it’s possible to start moving the acquired company’s assets into the parent organization’s Perimeter 81 network. We’d suggest starting by connecting the acquired company’s cloud services to the parent company’s network, which requires very little configuration and can be done in under two minutes. It’s typically just a matter of adjusting the settings on the cloud service side to accommodate the parent company’s gateway, and that’s it. 

Moving on-premises resources from one Perimeter 81 network to another are again fairly simple in principle. All you have to do is set-up the connection between the site and the Perimeter 81 service. 

Next Steps

With a completed transition to a single network or set of networks under the Perimeter 81 umbrella, some good next steps include enhancing your Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) and context-based rules for company resources. This will add greater security for the entire organization and reduce the impact of threat actors who obtain company login credentials. 

We’d also highly recommend adding the Secure Web Gateway service to protect employees from malicious websites. 

Whichever network security features you implement, Perimeter 81 is here to help you. Should you have any issues with a network transition please don’t hesitate to reach out to your Customer Success Manager or contact our help team directly.

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