The Ultimate Guide to Understanding SASE

A good SASE deployment requires proper planning. This includes understanding the architecture and ROI and assessing whether your organization is ready for SASE.

What is SASE? SASE combines software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) and zero-trust network security into a single solution that boosts the performance of inexpensive broadband connections while eliminating costly hardware investments. A SASE solution is scalable, managed in the Cloud by your vendor, and easily integrated into your distributed network infrastructure.

What is SASE?

SASE is a new network model that combines networking and security functions into a cloud service. It’s an important advancement because existing technology can no longer meet the requirements of digital organizations, which demand immediate access to various applications and data. As a result, more traffic flows to IaaS providers, SaaS, and other cloud services, remote users, and branch offices than ever before.

IT teams must adopt a new network architecture supporting SASE to handle this data surge. As a unified service, SASE eliminates siloed systems that often require multiple vendors and hardware, increasing enterprise flexibility, performance, and cost savings.

A centralized management platform sets policies enforced at distributed points of presence (PoPs) close to end users. This helps reduce latency for a better user experience and allows IT to run comprehensive behavioral analytics that spots threats and anomalies in real-time.

In addition to providing an easy-to-use management platform, the PoPs provide a secure connection between endpoint devices and the SASE solution. This is done by verifying the identity of an end user or device and applying pre-defined compliance and security policies. These policies are based on the device’s state, sensitivity, and context. The process also includes an ongoing risk assessment to ensure that only valid connections are allowed in and out of the organization’s network.

What are the Core Elements of SASE?

Rather than relying on network and security products deployed in separate hardware networks, SASE delivers all those functions as a single cloud-based service. This simplifies IT infrastructure and reduces the number of security products IT teams must manage, update and maintain.

SASE services include:

  • A secure access gateway (SAG).
  • Software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN).
  • Cloud access security broker (CASB).
  • Firewall as a service (FWaaS).
  • Zero trust networking access (ZTNA).
  • These technologies deliver an advanced solution for modern IT and cybersecurity challenges.

In addition to reducing complexity, SASE offers greater performance and security. It allows users to connect to third-party resources without backhauling through a corporate network, which can cause latency and congestion. SASE also helps organizations meet compliance requirements by providing a more streamlined way to protect client data from cyber threats.

Another key component of SASE is the ability to deploy and scale services quickly and easily to address changing IT and business needs. With the shift to remote work and a move toward a cloud-first strategy, organizations must be able to accommodate new ways of working and devices connecting to the corporate network. SASE enables them to protect data and provide users with an enhanced experience. This is accomplished through the SASE service model that moves the secure authentication gateway closer to the user base, similar to how a content delivery network caches web pages for local users.

What Are the Benefits of SASE?

In the hands of a well-chosen vendor, SASE delivers a single service that combines security functions and software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) capabilities to reduce costs, complexity, and risks. It enables organizations to support remote and mobile workers, eliminates the need for Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) lines and centralized data centers, and provides a seamless user experience.

SASE also helps protect sensitive information from attacks targeting distributed connections, such as Man-in-the-Middle interceptions, spoofing, or malware. Leading SASE vendors offer protection via cloud-based security brokers, secure web gateways, zero-trust network access (ZTNA), and more. The goal is to provide a least-privileged, consistent security policy across the entire network with the ability to leverage distributed connection points to strengthen and extend security.

A SASE solution that combines these functions also reduces management overhead, with fewer third-party services to purchase, monitor and maintain. This makes IT staff more productive and allows them to focus on other strategic initiatives that drive the business forward.

Choose a provider with a broad, deep understanding of networking and cybersecurity. If the company focuses on a narrow area of expertise, it cannot deliver the performance needed to support your organization’s unique requirements. And a lack of SD-WAN expertise could impact the SASE solutions’ effectiveness. Also, consider whether the company can address your data privacy and control concerns.

What Are the Challenges of SASE?

There are a few key challenges that organizations face when they implement SASE. These include ensuring reliable network connectivity, integrating with existing infrastructure, and maintaining compliance with data privacy regulations. However, if these hurdles are overcome, SASE can be a transformative networking and security architecture for the modern enterprise.

Security and networking professionals must work together to ensure a successful SASE implementation. Since these two siloed teams are used to working separately, it can be challenging to merge their processes and work in tandem. However, SASE can be a game-changing security architecture for hybrid cloud environments if executed correctly.

Another challenge of SASE is ensuring that the entire network and security toolset can be managed through a single interface. This can be challenging for many enterprises, especially smaller companies that need more resources to invest in a single solution that meets their needs.

The best way to overcome this challenge is to choose a SASE vendor that offers a single product that includes SD-WAN, firewall as a service, CASB, and ZTNA. This will provide enterprises with a comprehensive solution easily managed through a centralized management console. This will also help reduce the risk of overlapping technologies that create security gaps. To avoid this, ask the right questions during a SASE proof of concept and ensure that your chosen vendor has the necessary features for your unique business requirements.

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