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SASE: A Unified Approach to Network and Security

Perspective | By |

In an era where digital transformation is reshaping business operations, Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) stands out as a cutting-edge solution, seamlessly integrating network and security functionalities into a unified framework.

As organizations increasingly depend on cloud-based SaaS applications, manage diverse branch operations, support a distributed global workforce, and operate hybrid data centers, SASE provides a consistent and comprehensive approach to meet these evolving needs.

The Shift to SASE for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses

For small and medium-sized businesses that lack extensive operational resources, technical expertise, and large budgets for infrastructure upgrades, SASE offers a simplified, cost-effective solution.

It streamlines operations by consolidating networking, security, remote access, and monitoring needs into a single platform, easing adoption and optimizing costs. This is particularly vital for sectors where securing cloud access and enabling a work-from-anywhere workforce is paramount.

The Role of SD-WAN in SASE Adoption

SD-WAN has accelerated the SASE trend by offering central management, simplified WAN connectivity, granular network visibility, and a shift from traffic-centric to application- and identity-centric flows.

Businesses typically start their SASE journey by integrating SD-WAN solutions with Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFW) for security, eventually merging security into the SD-WAN framework to achieve a comprehensive SASE solution suited for modern business needs.

Addressing Modern Business Challenges

SASE effectively resolves several critical issues faced by businesses today, such as the growing work-from-anywhere workforce, global office operations, cloud-native applications, and the high cost of private connectivity like MPLS and Ethernet private lines.

Its cloud-based security approach ensures consistent security policies worldwide, optimized application performance, reduced network and security complexity, and central management. Moreover, SASE leverages flexible WAN options (Broadband, Cellular, DIA) and identity-based decision-making, making it indispensable for modern businesses.

Zero-Touch Deployments and Central Management

Zero-touch deployments and central management are crucial for smooth business operations, enabling faster rollouts for multi-site organizations. Enhanced user telemetry and visibility into every network and security architecture hop provide valuable insights for troubleshooting, informed decision-making, and future planning.

Leading Vendors in the SASE Market

As the SASE market evolves, major network and security vendors are pivoting towards comprehensive SASE solutions. Some, like Palo Alto, Cato Networks, and Fortinet, offer complete single-vendor SASE solutions, while others like VMware, Aruba, and Check Point provide partial solutions.

A thorough cost and need analysis is essential to determine the best vendor solution for each customer, as not all may require a complete SASE package with all features and capabilities.

Below is a comparison of some of the major SASE vendors, highlighting their best use cases and unique features:

SASE Vendors Comparison
Vendor Best Use Case Special Features
Cato Networks Full Service SASE Simplified deployment with options for managed installation, security, and internet provider management
VMware SASE VMware SDWAN upgrade Most cloud connectors and market-share leader for SD-WAN
Palo Alto SASE Multi-tenant Service Providers Top notch security features
Fortinet SASE FortiGate upgrade Application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) designs for faster SD-WAN hardware
Cloudflare One Entry-level SASE Most transparent pricing and a free tier for < 50 users
Versa SASE Full control SASE Local data center installation option for the SASE controller

Case Study: A Bank’s Transition to SASE

In our recent project, a bank with over 500 branches across 23 states in the United States faced high costs, inflexibility, and scalability issues due to its reliance on private MPLS circuits and on-prem firewall appliances for security and connectivity.

Looking to SASE to solve these challenges, the bank began its transition by replacing its existing infrastructure with SD-WAN, simplifying WAN connectivity, reducing costs, and ensuring maximum uptime.

After successfully implementing SD-WAN, the bank supplemented its existing security measures by integrating Cloud Web Security, including the Secure Web Gateway (SWG), into its network. This enhanced their security posture with a core security element of the SASE architecture.

This seamless transition highlights the advantages of adopting SASE in stages, starting with a core network element like SD-WAN and then integrating a core security element like SWG.

The bank now benefits from redundant and secure WAN connectivity, prioritized application steering, and significant cost savings. With a converged network and security solution, the bank has eliminated the need for multiple, often poorly integrated point products, resulting in smoother branch operations.

Read More About SASE: The Key Benefits and Challenges of SASE Adoption

The Road Ahead for SASE

As SASE continues to gain traction, businesses should carefully evaluate their requirements, budgets, and vendor offerings. Given that some vendors may still lack mature features, it is crucial to choose solutions that meet current needs rather than waiting for future updates.

Large enterprises with complex network and security architectures should adopt SASE in phases to avoid business disruptions and integration challenges with existing infrastructure.


SASE represents a transformative approach to network and security, offering a unified solution that caters to the dynamic needs of modern businesses. By simplifying operations, reducing costs, and enhancing security, SASE is poised to become an essential component of the digital enterprise landscape.

About Hardware Nation:

Hardware Nation is a professional services company that accelerates network transformation through an open networking approach, enabling freedom of choice, flexibility, and cost efficiency. Our seasoned experts have worked on projects for some of the world’s leading organizations, leveraging a hybrid cloud-first and AI-enabled approach. We help our customers navigate the ecosystem, drawing on decades of experience. Our deployments are powered by leading white box and OEM network, compute, and storage vendors. Our expertise encompasses a wide range of industries and use cases, including enterprise, cloud, data center, AI, 5G/ISP infrastructure, and edge IT.

Hamza Kamal

Network Security Engineer

Hamza is a Network Security Engineer at Hardware Nation with over 4 years of experience in designing and deploying network and security solutions for large businesses across the United States. He specializes in working with top SDWAN/SASE vendors like Palo Alto, Fortinet, VMware, and Cato Cloud.

As an AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner, Hamza has extensive knowledge of cloud networking in AWS and excels in managing and deploying Next-Generation-Firewall solutions both as VNF and on-premises. He is proficient in using cloud security services like Zscaler, Check Point Harmony Connect, and VMware Velocloud Cloud Web Security for content filtering and threat prevention.

Hamza’s expertise includes configuring firewall policies, designing topologies, troubleshooting connectivity issues, and ensuring high availability, scalability, and performance of networks.

Learn more about our approach to SASE.