SASE: What Is It and What Can It Do For You?
Coined by Gartner in the summer of 2019, SASE – short for Secure Access Service Edge and pronounced “sassy” – has become one of IT’s favorite buzzwords. Sure, it’s fun to say, but the appeal of SASE is far greater. SASE technology has real potential as a solution to a set of pain points that have been exacerbated since the term’s early days, particularly over the last several months.
Workforces were already trending toward greater distribution in recent years. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic struck and that trend became an imperative. However, workforces were never unique in that regard. The tools and the data sets that those modern workers use every day have followed suit, finding new homes beyond traditional on premises data centers. It’s this hybrid environment, spanning public and private clouds as well as onsite servers – and the challenges it creates – where SASE seemed able to make a considerable difference.
Here’s the thing: As is often the case with buzzwords, a growth in popularity can obscure a term’s true meaning – and value. SASE has been no different in this regard, with organizations hoping to tweak the term to fit their own product portfolio. So, we reached out to our networking team to nail down what defines a legitimate SASE solution and its benefits.
SASE: What is it?
Since SASE can trace its origins back to Gartner, let’s start there. Gartner defines SASE as a combination of “comprehensive network security functions” able to support the “dynamic secure access needs of digital enterprises.” Those necessary security functions include:
- a secure web gateway (SWG) to stave off web-based threats and keep Internet-connected devices aligned with company policies by filtering unwanted or dangerous web traffic. SWGs should include, at the very least, URL filtering, malicious code detection/filtering, application control capabilities.
- a cloud access security broker (CASB) standing between cloud users and their cloud service providers. These utilities can be either cloud-based or locally-hosted and serve as a central hub for cloud security policy enforcement. A CASB can enforce policies ranging from encryption to authentication to malware detection and prevention (among others).
- Firewall as a Servce (FWaaS) eliminates the need for a physical firewall appliance, hosting the capabilities instead in the cloud and offering them as a service. This allows the entirety of an organization’s network and sites to be collected and protected behind a global firewall solution.
- Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) replaces traditional approaches to network access requiring organizations to grant widespread, blanket access to employees or corporate partners for the purposes of collaboration. Instead, ZTNA builds a perimeter around applications or data sets and grants access only to approved identities, devices, etc.
Those features work in conjunction with advanced SD-WAN functionality, such as dynamic path selection, to create the SASE user experience.
What can SASE do for me?
Now that we’ve covered what SASE is, let’s look at what it can do. It should be no surprise given its popularity as a buzzword that the upsides of SASE are plentiful. Organizations that adopt SASE have experienced benefits that include the following:
- Reduction in security cost and complexity. SASE unites secure access into a single portal, cutting the number of solutions an organization must deploy and, potentially, the number of vendors it works with. This consolidation should drive down environmental complexity and spend in both the near and the long term.
- Modern collaboration enablement. Organizations can take a more advanced approach to working with those outside their metaphorical four walls – think contractors or vendors. Instead of leaning on solutions like a VPN, outside traffic can route into an organization via secure, dependable SASE solutions.
- Performance boosts. Staying connected with co-workers in this moment is done mostly via solutions like video or VoIP. These capabilities have put a massive strain on network bandwidth. It’s in these scenarios where the SD-WAN capabilities of SASE shine. SASE solutions can intelligently adjust network traffic to ensure an optimal user experience, replicating the feeling of working shoulder-to-shoulder with co-workers or contacts no matter the actual distance.
- Streamlined network and security management. As the cloud often does, SASE shifts workloads off IT’s already-full plate. Adapting to new threats or deploying new policies are no longer manual-intensive processes. Instead, updates can be pushed out across an organization from a single source. Additionally, no new hardware or infrastructure will needed to support evolving security and capacity efforts.
- Greater security. These other benefits are great, but let’s face it, if you’re investing in “Secure Access Service Edge” technology, you’re doing so because you want better security. SASE can deliver this in multiple ways. It amplifies and enforces security policies. It can identify and restrict possible threats before they become an issue. It also fundamentally shifts and hardens the way access is handled, redefining it based on user identity, device type, etc.
Next Steps: Bypass the buzz – is SASE right for you?
The business implications for SASE in a world where many employees remain tethered to their home offices are seemingly vast. Leaders in the networking and security spaces have taken notice.
Earlier this fall, Cisco was named a leader in the space in a Gartner Magic Quadrant study on the topic. More recently, VMware jumped into the conversation by releasing a SASE solution of its own at this year’s all-virtual VMworld. Interest in these solutions on the client side is also on the rise. Gartner has projected that by 2024, at least 40% of enterprises will have developed their own SASE strategies. That figure stood at less than 1% back during the closing days of 2018.
Interested in going beyond the hype and discussing what makes SASE tick? Our networking team can help you determine whether or not SASE makes sense for the present or future of your organization. Reach out to them today to start a dialogue!
Visit https://www.arrayasolutions.com/contact-us/ to connect with our team now.
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