The future of SASE

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The concept of SASE (Secure Access Service Edge) has been introduced fairly recently and it’s already set on its path towards dominating the market of network security.

As the paradigm is shifting more and more towards virtual connectivity in favor of interpersonal interaction, this development was only exacerbated by the pandemic. The concerns regarding remote working suddenly became an issue and everyone started obsessing over the cloud.

SASE is the best solution for problems plaguing companies that need to navigate these treacherous waters of an increasingly network-oriented world.

But what is it, and is it really the future of network security?

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Quickly - what is SASE?

There is a lot of confusion on what SASE really is and what differentiates it from the regular type of SD-WAN.

The fastest way to describe it in a way that makes sense is that SASE is a cloud-based solution that takes advantage of SD-WAN and other security platforms to help secure networks and provide wide-area access to applications and other internal systems.

While SD-WAN alone is better suited to be used as a localized service that secures particular network points, SASE is a comprehensive security solution that creates a secure network perimeter. 

Why is it on the upswing?

The main reason why SASE is becoming more prevalent is its simplicity.

It’s an over compassing solution that creates a single network for all of your data centers, offices, and remote workers. It also simplifies access rights as it gives every user a unique identity rather than relying on the user’s IP address. 

This allows companies to easily develop and manage only a handful of security policies instead of coming up with different policies tied to individual IP addresses. 

Typically, a secure network infrastructure requires multiple different solutions that tend to turn it into an unmanageable mess. This mish-mash of different tools also leads to slower performance. 

SASE, on the other hand, provides robust security features in a simple package that doesn’t impact the speed of the network. It’s the most natural progression of security for a workforce that’s even more geographically distributed. 

While traditional, centralized network infrastructures that funnel data through a data center easily crumble with an increased number of remote workers, SASE doesn’t. All the data is pushed out to the edges of the network, leading to workers getting the best possible experience as there is no hint of latency caused by distance. 

The adoption and future challenges

Despite the ongoing digital transformation, a lot of companies still rely on old legacy infrastructures. 

Slowly but surely, however, that is about to change.

Gartner expects that 60% of enterprises will have clear-cut strategies to adopt SASE by 2025. It might seem like a low number when you take into account how beneficial the revamp of network infrastructures could prove to be, but in actuality, this number was only 10% in 2020. 

What drove a spike in the adoption and recognition of SASE was primarily the Covid-19 pandemic. This event led everyone to research and explore new ways that can help minimize the security concerns and issues of remote work.

More so, SASE received a boost due to its implementation of the ZTNA or Zero Trust Network Access capabilities. 

The most simple explanation for what ZTNA does is that it denies access to files to everyone unless explicitly allowed. It helps with a stronger micro-segmentation and security that limits lateral movement in case a breach ever occurs.

However, future endeavors are expected to be rough as there is a shortage of professionals who even understand the concept of SASE. Since it operates differently than the standard SD-WAN, designing and implementing a SASE structure requires vendors to invest time and money into adopting new skill sets.

Another challenge is also the fact that many companies will initially be reluctant to upgrade as they have already invested significant sums of money in their existing security infrastructures. It’s also hard to convince network architects to implement new technology as well, especially since their current SD-WAN configurations are still functioning, albeit not optimally.  

When it comes to the future of SASE, it will be interesting to see how the managed service providers (MSPs) and their users will make use of the multi-tenancy models as used with SASE. The concept of Tenant as defined, for instance, by the Israeli cloud and networking security provider Perimeter 81, is a dedicated workspace one gets assigned. It usually features the user application, authentication interface, and management portal.

If these solutions are to serve multiple clients and allow MSPs to benefit from multiple revenue streams, the providers such as Perimeter 81 are now offering multi-tenancy solutions that support fast deployment. Based on this, the MSPs can integrate the solutions such as the one offered by Perimeter 81 in their offer and expand their own business model by being able to support multiple tenants as part of their service. 

Just the beginning

There will always be resistance to change, especially when it comes to the adoption of new technologies. While SASE does offer a lot of benefits when compared to the current network infrastructures, it’s still relatively new so there is bound to be some opposition before it’s widely accepted as current SD-WAN systems.

This doesn’t take away from the power of the concept. It’s still the best solution for facilitating everything from remote working to multiple branch offices. The transition is going to be a gradual process, one that starts with awareness of the inner workings of SASE and the benefits it offers over the existing systems.

It might take a couple of years before it gets there, but SASE is the future.

Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.