First coined by research firm Gartner in 2019, SASE has become a hot topic in the IT industry in just a few short years. Undoubtedly accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, SASE has captured the attention of IT professionals in the network and security landscape as they prepare for an increasingly cloud-centric way of working.
However, with so much hype surrounding SASE, many people wonder whether it lives up to its promise to future-proof corporate networks. Or, in other words, is the hype actually overhype? And does SASE deliver the simplified but secure networking reality we’ve all been waiting for? Let’s get into it.
What is SASE?
Secure access service edge (SASE) is a framework for network architecture that combines VPN and SD-WAN capabilities with cloud-native security functions to securely connect users, systems, and endpoints to applications and services anywhere.
It converges network security solutions like secure web gateways (SWG), cloud access security brokers (CASB), firewall as a service (FWaaS), and zero-trust network access (ZTNA) with SD-WAN to create a unified, cloud-native service. But why has it garnered so much attention?
What Problems Does SASE Promise to Address?
In the past, companies would implement network access with siloed point solutions that were often complex, costly, and difficult to manage. This hurt IT agility and prevented enterprises from scaling their networks effectively and securely. And this issue has only become more challenging as companies shift from on-premise to the cloud.
SASE offers a solution to these problems and more. It promises to simplify network security in the cloud, improve efficiency and security, and reduce costs. For example, with SASE, organizations can fine-tune network access control (NAC) and secure seamless access for users, achieve real-time application optimization, apply consistent security policies, enable more remote and mobile access, and more.
In simple words, SASE promises a way to future-proof your business. If you suddenly experience a surge in traffic or decide it’s time to expand into other regions, you can rely on SASE to keep up. Because it’s a cloud-based distributed service, you can add or remove capabilities as needed and ready your network at breakneck speed, all without purchasing additional software and managing new contracts.
Why SASE Is Failing To Live Up to the Hype
Despite the many promises SASE offers, many companies are struggling to realize these benefits for several reasons. Successfully adopting and implementing SASE presents many challenges for organizations. And at the same time, many security vendors don’t yet have the skills or experience with SASE to deliver on its promises. Or in other words, SASE can work brilliantly when done well, but more often than not, this isn’t happening.
The Hurdles to SASE Realization
A Paradigm Shift
Some people argue that SASE is nothing new but rather a consolidation of various security tools already in existence. However, while this statement has some truth, SASE requires a paradigm shift in organizational mindset. SASE shifts security from a site-centric model to a more user-centric and contextual-based approach. This means security teams have to rethink how they view the network.
Additionally, consolidating these tools under a unified solution means companies need to break down silos between networking and security teams. These teams need to collaborate, and as a result, roles may need to be more flexible.
When organizations fail to embrace these changes, they don’t realize the true potential of SASE.
A Confusing Vendor Ecosystem
Security vendors are all too aware of SASE’s hype and leverage this with non-stop marketing. Unfortunately, this can leave many companies confused about the tools and methodologies they need to help their business stay competitive.
And even when an organization decides on a specific set of tools to adopt, it’s not as simple as choosing a vendor that offers these tools. The organization also needs to look closely at its existing tech stack for duplicative capabilities. Failing to do this can lead to tool sprawl – where unnecessary purchasing of new IT tools leads to redundancy, wasteful spending, and increased system complexity.
And then there’s the risk of vendor lock-in. Adopting SASE is an excellent way for companies undergoing cloud transformation to simplify the security process and cover many compliance requirements. However, companies also have to accept that they’re getting all capabilities from one supplier and that this comes with a cost. If the chosen SASE product becomes outdated, switching to a new one might not be straightforward.
A Young SASE Market
Legacy hardware vendors are increasingly offering SASE architecture to rise to the current demand. However, with their lack of expertise, these vendors might not be the best option. For example, they could lack the cloud-native mindset to bring the SASE architecture to life, resulting in cost and performance problems. Also, traditional vendors often lack the experience in evaluating context, a core principle of SASE, limiting their ability to make context-aware decisions. And lastly, some solutions might come up short because the providers only have experience in either networking or security, but not both.
The Future of SASE
There’s no doubt that as the current IT landscape continues to mature, there will be an increased need for simplified network and security management. And we see this reflected in attitudes toward SASE. For example, Gartner predicts that by 2025, 60% of all enterprises will have clear strategies to adopt SASE.
But how quickly SASE will become the new norm is still up for debate. Today, many companies are shifting a significant proportion of their environment to the cloud and outsourcing SD-WAN management. At the same time, they’re choosing to maintain control over their security services internally. As a result, these companies may not be in a rush to move to the SASE approach because their current setup works well enough.
We could also see SASE adoption massively boosted if the major cloud suppliers decide to incorporate SASE services in their licensing models. Still, we’ll have to wait to see if this becomes a reality.
As it stands today, the future of SASE looks promising, but it’s not set in stone.
SASE is a powerful concept, but it’s still in its infancy. This means organizations and vendors are still ironing out the issues that come with new technologies. And where there’s new tech, there’s always resistance. However, resistance isn’t always a bad thing – modern cybersecurity encourages us to do away with implicit trust and be cautious and deliberate in our actions.
Network security should be taken seriously, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be hard work. This is where Portnox comes in. We offer robust and affordable cloud-native network access control (NAC) solutions for companies of any size. Get in touch to learn how we can future-proof your network.
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