As businesses increasingly move their operations to cloud architectures, the need for enhanced security, reduced complexity, and low operating costs arise. The shift to remote work ecosystems that need hybrid cloud solutions and software as a service (SaaS) only accelerates the need for these requirements.
Unfortunately, the existing network technologies and approaches no longer provide the enhanced security levels and access control a digital business needs. These digital organizations have to deliver quick and uninterrupted network access for their users regardless of their locations.
There are several legacy approaches towards inspection and verification. One among them is channeling network traffic through a Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) service to your data center’s firewalls. But these approaches are practical only if you know their locations.
Today, with numerous users in remote locations, this model, which involves transmitting remote user network traffic to the data center, inspecting it, and then retransmitting it again, brings down productivity and spoils the user experience.
These new demands call for a unique network security solution in today’s digital world.
What is SASE?
The call for enhanced network security has been answered in the form of an advanced network security model known as Secure Access Service Edge or SASE (pronounced “sassy”).
SASE is the convergence of wide area networking (WAN); software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN); and network security services like a cloud access security broker (CASB), firewall as a service (FWaaS), and zero trust into a single, cloud-based service model. In short, SASE secures your network traffic as the sum of all these security features.
Being secure and direct is the defining factor of SASE that differentiates it from point solutions and other safe networking strategies. It enables your enterprise to inspect the traffic from your users’ devices at the nearest point, also known as the enforcement point, and then transmit it to its destination rather than relying on your data center security.
This also enables increasingly efficient access to data and applications, turning it into a better option to protect an enterprise’s distributed workforces and cloud-based data.
As such, Gartner predicts nearly 40% of enterprises worldwide will implement explicit strategies to adopt SASE by 2024. This is way up from less than 1% at the end of 2018.
Also read: Understanding the Zero Trust Approach to Network Security
The Benefits of SASE Security Model
The SASE model is based on the belief that cybersecurity and IT network architectures focusing on the data center are outdated and, at the same time, ineffective. This belief is not just a trend; it is a fact that the broader IT industry has already realized.
As a result, SASE has garnered widespread attention from companies, third-party vendors, and media focused on networking and cybersecurity. Here are some of the benefits of the adoption of SASE.
- Flexibility: Being a cloud-based infrastructure, an enterprise with a SASE model can implement and deliver several cybersecurity features, such as cyber threat and credential theft prevention, web filtering, sandboxing, Domain Name System (DNS) security, data loss prevention, and futuristic firewall policies.
- Reduced Operating Costs: SASE provides a single platform for IT network security, eliminating the need for purchasing and maintaining multiple-point products. Therefore, SASE can dramatically decrease the need for IT resources and operation costs.
- Lesser Complexity: SASE enables enterprises to consolidate their IT network security stack into a cloud-based network security architecture as well as minimize the number of IT security products a team has to manage, maintain, and update. This results in a less complex IT infrastructure.
- Increased Performance: Cloud infrastructure easily connects IT resources like applications and data stored at various locations in various parts of the world. This will improve IT infrastructure’s performance.
- Zero-Trust Approach: A zero-trust approach eliminates trust issues that occur when users, devices, and applications connect. A SASE model with a zero-trust approach provides complete session protection, regardless of a user’s location or active status on the IT network.
- Cyber Threat Prevention: By integrating the complete content inspection into a SASE model, enterprises will benefit from enhanced cybersecurity and visibility into their network.
- Data Protection: Implementing data protection policies within a SASE model prevents unauthorized access and misuse of sensitive data.
Challenges of SASE Deployment
The first challenge associated with SASE deployment is the need for virtualizing networks and their operations using SD-WAN. It requires enterprises to discard outdated single-function switches and routers and replace them with new equipment.
The majority of the enterprises have been carrying out network virtualization for the past several years. As a result, they have successfully virtualized at least a significant chunk of their networks. However, network virtualization still stands as a challenge for successful SASE deployment.
The need for an integrated IT security structure
Another stumbling block for SASE implementation is the necessity for a fully managed and integrated IT security architecture similar to software-defined networks. But, currently, most businesses have a wayward mixture of standalone cybersecurity methods.
In other words, most companies possess dozens or even hundreds of solitary security applications that take care of their data centers, cloud services, networks, hardware endpoints, and other applications. Even VPN, mandatory for a secured network connection, fails to be compatible with every device and server in a business organization. It brings compatibility challenges to the forefront.
An efficient implementation of SASE requires unified policy management, fully secured access, cyberthreat protection, and device management. If each cybersecurity component does not sync well together, it can become a daunting task.
Eliminating organizational silos
The organizational challenge is another obstacle to a successful SASE implementation. Most businesses have siloed networking and security operations teams that rarely come in close contact. A closer collaboration of network ops and security ops is needed, and without that, SASE implementation is impossible.
SASE: An Open Road to Digital Transformation
Digital transformation (DX) of various businesses worldwide has brought a huge demand for greater agility and scalability with less complexity in networking and cybersecurity. As a result, companies worldwide have found that they need to provide consistent and secure access to data, applications, and services to their users at various locations around the globe.
SASE infrastructure is an entirely new model that quickly, flexibly, securely connects users and devices. A cloud-native SASE service provider can help a business adopt SASE to equip them with the speed and agility needed to dive into the digital future.
Read next: The Need for Data Protection is Evolving Zero Trust Frameworks