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The Key Benefits and Challenges of SASE Adoption

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Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) emerged in 2019 as a cloud-based networking and security architectural framework that integrates multiple network and security functions, such as SD-WAN, SSE, FWaaS, CASB, and ZTNA, into a single, cloud-delivered solution. SASE provides secure access to enterprise applications and data for users, regardless of their location or device, by leveraging cloud technology to deliver these services from a distributed network of points of presence (PoPs). This approach provides businesses with greater flexibility, scalability, and cost savings while also enhancing security and reducing complexity. The pandemic and the shift towards remote and hybrid work models led to a surge in demand for SASE, as businesses sought to provide their distributed workforce with secure and reliable access to enterprise resources. According to Gartner, by 2025, at least 60% of enterprises will have explicit strategies and timelines for SASE adoption encompassing user, branch and edge access, up from 10% in 2020.

Traditionally, network security was based on the premise of protecting a centralized network perimeter, but with the rise of cloud computing, mobile devices, and remote work, this approach has become less effective. SASE takes a different approach by providing security that is delivered from the cloud and applied at the edge, where users and devices connect to the network. It is characterized by its identity-driven approach to security, cloud-native architecture, and globally distributed network. This shift towards cloud-based network security also allows organizations to reduce complexity and lower costs by consolidating multiple security technologies into a single solution. 

While SASE offers many benefits, such as enhanced security, greater flexibility, and cost savings, its adoption is not without challenges, including the need for reliable network connectivity, integration with existing IT infrastructure, and ensuring compliance with data privacy regulations.
 

Key Components of SASE

SASE consists of several key components, including Software-Defined WAN (SD-WAN), Firewall as a Service (FWaaS), Zero-Trust Network Access (ZTNA), Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB), Secure Web Gateway (SWG), and Unified Management. SASE also provides unified management, allowing users to monitor and manage all network and security solutions from a single pane of glass, thereby eliminating the complexity of managing multiple disparate products. Together, these components provide businesses with a comprehensive and cloud-native approach to network security that is designed to meet the needs of modern, distributed organizations.

Adoption Challenges

In addition to technical hurdles, SASE adoption necessitates the collaboration and cooperation of traditionally siloed networking and security teams to work together harmoniously. From a technical perspective, SASE adoption challenges include ensuring reliable network connectivity, integrating with existing IT infrastructure, understanding the maturity level of a vendor’s solution, and maintaining compliance with data privacy regulations.

Collaboration: If your organizations networking and technical teams are siloed, it is essential to have them work together to identify and rank the enterprise functionality required for your organization. Armed with this information, your organization will better be able to select a vendor that has the most mature features to meet your use case. 

Vendor Selection: Selecting a SASE vendor can be challenging since the SASE market is still relatively young, and there are numerous vendors offering various SASE solutions with differing levels of maturity. SASE is an integrated set of different technologies, and choosing the right vendor requires a comprehensive understanding of all the components involved. Organizations should take great care when selecting a SASE vendor, ensuring they have thoroughly assessed their needs and have piloted the solution sufficiently before implementing it. 
Integration and Interoperability: Integration is a critical consideration for SASE implementation, particularly for distributed enterprises with varying cloud topographies. Leveraging cloud-native tools can facilitate seamless communication between hybrid cloud and on-premises infrastructure across different locations, resulting in enhanced agility and flexibility.

Final Thoughts

SASE represents a transformative approach to networking and security, with its identity-driven, cloud-native, and globally distributed architecture. It provides numerous benefits, including enhanced agility, scalability, and security, making it an attractive solution for modern organizations. While there are challenges associated with SASE implementation, such as vendor selection and ensuring interoperability, the benefits of a comprehensive SASE solution are hard to ignore. As remote and hybrid working models continue to be the new norm, an increasing number of organizations are embracing SASE, making it increasingly prevalent and beneficial for those who adopt it.