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Network Security Gets Sassy: The Benefits of Unified SASE for the Modern Business

Written by Brian Ramsey, VP Sales – Americas, Xalient

Modern businesses looking to thrive in today’s digital era are increasingly seeking technologies that enable faster and more secure connectivity across their global organisation. Not only to successfully deliver digital transformation initiatives but also operational efficiencies and cost savings and to support knowledge workers who are either hybrid or fully remote working. As a result, this is driving demand for Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) solutions.

Brian Ramsey
Brian Ramsey, VP Sales – Americas.

The rapid adoption of cloud services combined with increases in a variety of mobile devices, and a distributed workforce have all created the need for secure and reliable access to applications anytime, anyhow, anywhere. And unfortunately, the traditional network and security architectures that organisations once relied upon primarily for permitted-based secure connectivity are no longer meeting the needs of this modern business environment.

Delivering consistent connectivity and security from everywhere

For those less familiar, SASE converges the functions of network and security solutions into a single cloud-native service that delivers consistent connectivity and security from everywhere. By replacing all point solutions, SASE provides a global and cloud-based network that supports all edges. As a result, SASE solutions improve operational performance, business agility and connectivity, and they reduce IT overhead. Ever since SASE was coined as a category by Gartner in 2019, the global adoption of SASE has grown significantly. In fact, according to the 2023 Ponemon Institute report, nearly half (46%) of organisations surveyed have deployed a SASE-based architecture in the last 12 months.

So what are the driving forces behind SASE adoption?

Put simply, security that was once effective in a traditional network set up now isn’t. With more users, devices, locations and cloud services to protect, the organization must deal with more potential entry points for attackers. This means they have more security tools to manage and update.

Additionally, networks that were once manageable now aren’t. With more traffic being hauled through a VPN and the corporate network, users are experiencing more latency and a poor experience, not to mention bandwidth limitations. All of this is affecting their performance and productivity, not to mention user satisfaction.

However, this isn’t just causing inefficiencies, it is also costly. Solutions that once worked now don’t. With the proliferation of both network and security solutions to deploy, maintain update and troubleshoot, the organization must spend more time resolving issues and managing the infrastructure.

All these issues have led to the adoption of SASE which is in effect made up of two distinct technology sets.  WAN Edge Services or SD-WAN, and Security Service Edge which includes Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA), Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB), Secure Web Gateway (SEG) and Digital Evaluation Model (DEM). Together these allow network and security teams to enable any user, device or server to securely connect from anywhere over any transport method.

Not all SASE solutions are created equal

However, not all SASE solutions are a silver bullet. Some SASE providers offer multiple point solutions that are loosely integrated or require routing between different vendors’ PoPs which can introduce latency and performance issues. This is where a unified SASE for a simpler more cost-effective journey may prove more suitable.  When we talk about unified SASE, this is a solution that delivers all the core capabilities of SASE from a single tightly integrated platform, greatly improving security posture, staff efficacy, user and admin experiences as well as cost efficiency.

A unified approach also allows for greater agility and faster deployment, increasing the organisation’s time to value.  Gartner predicts that by 2025 50% of all new SD-WAN purchases will be part of a single-vendor SASE offering, up from 10% in 2022.

The benefits of single vendor unified SASE

Unified SASE offers many benefits to organization’s, such as improving security by reducing the attack surface and improving threat detection and response times by employing universal security policies and centralized access control. It also improves the efficiencies of networking and security teams by eliminating roadblocks between teams and minimizing complexities and costs.  It offers a better user and admin experience, guaranteeing high performance and low-latency connectivity for users via the fastest access paths. And finally, it lowers capital and operational expenditure by eliminating the need for multiple point solutions and hardware appliances. Unified SASE is also highly scalable, quickly adapting to changing business needs and provides multiple points of presence for geographically distributed organizations.

Deploying a single-vendor unified SASE solution may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be with the right partner and a clear roadmap. Here are five top tips to ensure a successful SASE deployment:

  1. Define your goals and requirements and assess your current network and security architecture to find gaps and challenges.
  2. Choose the right single-vendor SASE provider making sure you compare different providers based on their capabilities and price, looking for a well-architected single-vendor SASE solution that is integrated, unified, flexible and easy to use.
  3. Design and develop your SASE plan working collaboratively with your provider to define your network topology, security policies, user groups application profiles and connectivity options.
  4. Take a phased approach migrating users, devices, locations and applications in your SASE solution in a phased or batched manner. SASE can work in tandem with existing solutions to allow you to manage deployments at the speed that works for your organization.
  5. Make sure you get the most out of your investment by working with your provider using their tools and dashboards to gain visibility and feedback to further optimize your business.

SASE is not just a passing trend but a strategic imperative for modern businesses looking to thrive in today’s digital era.  SASE can help organizations achieve better security posture and user experience while delivering operational efficiencies and cost savings.  Ultimately, by using a unified SASE delivered by a single vendor, you will get to all these benefits even faster.

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Portrait of Mark Foulsham, Board Advisor, NED, COO/CIO, Fractional Support, Digital Leadership Coach

Mark Foulsham

Board Advisor, NED, COO/CIO, Fractional Support, Digital Leadership Coach

With a broad background as a COO/CIO/CDO, C-Suite Advisor, NED, Senior Transformation Leader and Coach, Mark tackles multiple fronts from the advantage of diverse experience in business operations, technology, procurement, delivery and risk. With a deep knowledge of business models from multiple sectors and extensive experience in fast-paced digital start-ups.

Mark’s work across extensive business types, functions and countries empowers him with experience to bear across silos. Mark has built a reputation for advocating cross-business collaboration, taking a pragmatic approach and championing transformative change.