Michael Wood at Versa Networks makes the case for Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) as the future of network security
It is no secret that in the past year organisations have seen a shift in the way they have had to operate as well as a rapid increase in digital transformation. However, current network and network security architectures are failing to effectively serve the requirements needed for digital business. The rise in remote workers has meant that organisations have had to connect and secure networks from multiple locations, often at different times, and there is, therefore, a growing demand for infrastructure solutions that will enable them to connect to more locations at higher speeds – while keeping everything secure.
In order to keep up with this pace and current networking trends, businesses need to implement solutions that offer the capabilities that provide agility, flexibility, quality and security, and answer all of their networking needs.
One solution that has taken the lead in answering these networking needs is Secure Access Service Edge – or SASE, pronounced “sassy”. This term was coined by Gartner in 2019, with the prediction that SASE will be implemented by 40% of companies by 2024, making it an integral element of the evolution of the network.
SASE is the integration of wide area networking (WAN) and security solutions such as Zero Trust and firewall-as-a-service (FWaaS) into a single service that can be delivered entirely through the cloud. This type of integration provides a financial benefit to organisations because it improves network performance while also allowing them to reduce the cost of having to pay for multiple services at once.
Furthermore, the security functions that are integrated into the solution can be managed by a single unified solution, meaning organisations can utilise identity management and authentication policies across all their locations, identifying unusual behaviour and applying risk-based authentication processes automatically.
SASE can also deliver major improvements to connection speed and help to reduce latency. Due to the single software stack, data does not need to pass through multiple devices, server stacks or virtual network functions (VNFs). Often, when separate security solutions such as FWaaS and SD-WAN run on a network independently, there can be a great deal of ‘overlap’ and many steps are repeated, which leads to inefficiency, latency, and performance degradation.
Integrating cloud and network security
SASE’s cloud capabilities offer another level of integration and flexibility that other solutions do not. Prior to the pandemic, many organisations were already shifting to the cloud and making that digital step from storing data on-premises. As such, a solution that secures the cloud was already in high demand, however, the past year has seen that demand grow even further. Because SASE can be deployed through the cloud, organisations have been given the flexibility to apply security services wherever they are needed within the network. This has been particularly useful during national lockdowns when organisations have had to support a hybrid workforce and the threat landscape has grown tenfold.
As SASE is the integration of multiple technologies rolled into one solution which can all be delivered through the cloud, organisations can ultimately simplify the IT infrastructures they currently have in place. As such, by implementing a SASE approach, organisations are able to distribute security policies across multiple locations including branches, remote offices, and individual users. This not only removes the possibility of security gaps and vulnerabilities that are usually introduced when connecting and deploying multiple security solutions together, but it also reduces costs. This type of approach really is a game changer for the network.
The integration of cloud and network security benefits many industries, however, a good example of where SASE really excels is in the banking and retail industry. Banks and retailers often have multiple branches in different locations which all garner a different amount of traffic flow through its networks every day. The data that travels through these networks are often sensitive as it includes financial and personal information. As such, this makes them ideal targets for cyber criminals looking to hack into a network in order steal valuable information.
The pandemic has meant that organisations within these two industries have had to become digital (if they already weren’t before) and more often than not, transition to the cloud. As both digital businesses and physical businesses, organisations within these sectors need a network and security solution that deploys across all locations, without affecting the quality of the network. And a SASE approach can offer just that.
Any organisation can implement SASE. Those who want to integrate cloud and network security qualifies for SASE implementation. Due to the fact SASE is the integration of multiple services, it is actually very easy to deploy into a network. Once an organisation implements one SASE service such as SD-WAN, it will become easier to expand and add more. For example, an organisation may want to start by including security services to their network which delivers security from the cloud, and then expand these services so that it provides security to multiple devices such as a laptop, ATM, or till. Companies can start with just one solution that can be expanded as the company grows and their networking needs change.
Organisations have the opportunity to invest in long-term solutions that can facilitate high quality connections, as well as secure remote and digital working. The flexibility and scalability of SASE is ideally placed to meet a growing demand of users who want a seamless networking experience and allows businesses to take full advantage of this fast-emerging market.
SASE provides the solutions required by organisations that are operating both digitally and physically across a wide range of locations and is a valuable tool to have at their disposal. With more companies transitioning to the cloud, they need to consider solutions that can deliver increased security to their branches, remote offices, and individual users, as well as an increase in business and application performance for multi-cloud and on-premises deployments. Making networks SASE will ensure organisations are keeping up with the developing needs and requirements of the business.
Michael Wood is CMO at Versa Networks. He leads the Versa marketing organisation and drives brand awareness, messaging, positioning, product marketing, demand generation, analyst engagements, press relations and corporate communications. He is an industry veteran with 30 years of experience in marketing, product and engineering at companies such as StrataCom, Cisco, Akamai, VeloCloud, VMware and Apstra. Mike holds a Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Technology (Computer Electronics) from San Jose State University.
Main image courtesy of iStockPhoto.com