Benefits of integrating security and networking with SASE

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The cybersecurity approaches we relied on to secure our government networks and protect our IT resources against attackers are no longer able to perform. In fact, some of the most devastating cyberattacks ever have occurred over the past year. 

About the author

Ed Elmore, Director of Federal Markets, Versa Networks.

It’s clear that the decades old platforms we counted on and their vulnerabilities being exploited by today’s sophisticated attacks are contributing to existing network weaknesses. Wide-Area-Network (WAN) technology, for example, hasn’t changed much in more than 20 years.  

With the next major exploit around the corner, now is the time to redesign government IT for the future. But with current network foundations so established among government organizations of all sizes, the futureproofing of our networks can prove to be a significant undertaking.   

Secure Access Service Edge (SASE), a term Gartner introduced in 2019, has quickly become a popular and well-established solution in government agencies’ journeys to update the security and functionality of their networks required in today’s work-from-anywhere environment.   

SASE is the integration of networking capabilities and security solutions, along with analytics, in one unified platform – for example, the joining of software-as-a-service (SaaS) and firewall-as-a-service (FWaaS). While rapidly emerging, this approach is proving successful as government organizations roll out more secure and higher performing networks.  

The post-2020 journey   

For years, government organizations have migrated to more agile solutions away from traditional on-premises security and networking platforms. The events of 2020 highlighted the new work-from-anywhere needs for government workers and accelerated this migration. The new networking and security needs of an instant remote workforce forced agencies to quickly refocus their efforts and rapidly adapt.  

Traditional SD-WAN solutions have long been the popular software-defined architecture for delivering on these types of requirements, but they no longer address all challenges being faced by government teams, particularly when it comes to security. The need for further evolution has opened the door for new solutions, such as SASE, to emerge to address these growing needs.  

SASE proves up to today’s challenges  

The capabilities delivered by highly integrated and full-functions SASE solutions position agencies well in the ever-evolving cyberthreat landscape. Agility and flexibility are key advantages for SASE, which can be deployed through the cloud, enabling government organizations to apply security controls in any area of the network, across multiple locations. These advantages help strengthen the line of defense by eliminating the risk of security gaps, deploying consistent policies and controls, as well as reducing the overall cost because organizations eliminate the need to pay for multiple solutions for each area of the network.  

According to a survey on this topic, 87 percent of organizations have already adopted VPNs or SASE, or are considering adopting SASE within the next year. With 32 percent of organizations surveyed worried about protecting the IT network from security threats, it’s clear how the priorities are stacking up for government leaders faced with these challenges.  

Not only does SASE enhance the level of network security applied, it also ensures the required service levels of the network are met across all office locations and users. In today’s remote and work-from-anywhere environments, the ability to manage both network performance and security from a single platform proves advantageous for government IT teams.  

The integrated solution advantages 

SASE is a proven approach for any organization, especially because of how easy it is to apply to the network. With just one existing SASE solution, agencies can simply expand their service to cover more areas of the organization. Adopting SASE is not a major endeavor which involves rip and replace of the entire network. Instead, government IT teams can start small and tackle one area at a time, adding SASE services as they expand.   

Awareness is critical for the progress of SASE, and it’s important that organizations take the time to fully understand the different solution functions and what they can offer. As it stands, according to the survey only 31 percent of teams could correctly define what SASE is, and 13 percent of organizations not planning on deploying SASE admitted to not knowing the service’s actual benefits.   

To effectively support long-term work-from-anywhere workforces, organizations need to invest in future-proof solutions that enable them to operate both physically and digitally to keep up with the changing networking and security needs of the team. One of the most important advantages organizations can leverage is not having to manage networking and security as two separate entities. With advanced SASE solutions tightly integrating these functions, agencies automatically reduce the amount of time and resources needed to run them, and can instead focus on other high-priority areas of the organization.  

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Ed Elmore, Director of Federal Markets, Versa Networks.