Any cloud security system is going to consist of a growing collection of tools and applications due to the flexible nature of the cloud, the need for IT growth and a changing threat landscape. So, while one business might have a next-generation firewall, a cloud access security broker (CASB) and various encryption tools along with a virtual private network (VPN), another might go a different route, all with a mix of vendors and varying levels of IT complexity.
However, with businesses now adopting more flexible hybrid working models, or allowing staff to work from home (or a co-working space, library or coffee shop), businesses need a simpler way to manage the sprawl as IT security covers a growing range of network and cloud elements. Furthermore, IT needs a simpler way to defend those networks as new clouds and services are onboarded.
A new trend is a combination of secure access service edge (SASE) and a software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN). This helps protect business data, networks and services, while providing agility in systems and delivering the flexibility that IT security needs and that users desire.
For businesses looking to expand their hybrid work effort, or as part of an overall digital transformation, SASE and SD-WAN work in tandem to improve security and accessibility, make IT’s job easier and prepare any business for the all-cloud future.
What are SASE and SD-WAN?
A SASE architecture is the overall term for the convergence of wide-area networks and the components that make up your security platform. As IT research firm Gartner puts it:
SD-WAN has been taking over from dedicated network connections between offices such as MPLS and business broadband. As a software solution, it doesn’t care what networks your business uses, but provides the tools to protect and manage them.
Combine them and you have a simpler way to manage all your networks and security applications, and those that will come in the future, as part of any SASE architecture implementation.
5 reasons you need SASE architecture
1. Business growth and change
From a strategic perspective, as employees come and go and as new IT services are adopted, businesses are always changing. It gets expensive to cope with those changes, especially the loss of knowledge when IT network and security experts move on. By simplifying your network and security infrastructure and reporting, it gets easier to swap both people and services in and out of the overall system. This provides operational benefits and from a security perspective, whatever threats come next, the solution can be added in with a minimum of fuss.
2. Better network performance
Many businesses and end-users are happy to see their files and applications pop up after only a brief delay, especially when working remotely. But for some business applications, and especially the incoming wave of Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G networks, speed is essential, and SASE helps prioritize network speed and reduces latency for missing critical industrial or manufacturing applications.
3. Preparing for the hybrid future
Many firms have adopted or experimented with remote and hybrid working patterns, enabling employees to work from more practical locations as part of a better work/life balance. Whatever the business or the mindset of the leadership, the hybrid cork isn’t going back in the bottle, with a generation of workers used to and expecting remote opportunities.
Using SASE and SD-WAN makes supporting those workers on whatever networks they have access to efficient and easier for the business. SASE reduces or eliminates the need to route data across data centres and security applications to improve performance, while maintaining data and network protection.
4. It makes life easier for IT
IT departments are increasingly used to a dashboard view of complex systems, something that SASE delivers with a single-screen management view that provides a simpler network and security stack view, whatever solutions are in use.
SASE reduces upfront costs and eliminates the need for in-house management. It also highlights any issues while monitoring the performance of networks and security applications. With security the no. 1 challenge for most IT teams, SASE surfaces the important issues while the increasingly smart security services manage the routine issues, and can check those massively detailed logs that security apps generate for compliance needs.
5. It supports the Zero Trust concept
Old security applications used to assume that key parts of the network or applications were secure. In the modern threat environment, there’s no such thing as ‘totally secure’, so all elements of the cloud and network are suspect until proven safe.
The Zero Trust concept provides role-based access across segmented networks to minimize what workers (and any hacker who accesses their systems) can see and change. Through strong policies and access controls, people, applications and systems need to prove who they are in order to access business resources, improving security.
Overall, SASE and SD-WAN ensure a business will be secure and prepared for any strategy change or IT reorg in the future. At the same time, they reduce the effort required to manage and maintain the networks, clouds and whatever else businesses require.
Operational efficiency is a key part of C-level thinking. IT can deliver their part of that with a SASE architecture approach that is simpler to implement than previous complex IT architectures and supports business flexibility and growth.