A SASE architecture combines security and SD-WAN to help enterprises manage their WAN more efficiently
When thinking about perfect pairs, one might envision iconic duos like peanut butter and jelly or Batman and Robin. However, in the networking world, the answer takes a different form. Meet SD-WAN and Security Service Edge (SSE) — a powerful dynamic duo that goes beyond sandwiches and caped crusaders. Together, they lay the framework for Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) to seamlessly deliver improved network performance and next-gen security for businesses.
The traditional approach of managing separate networking and security infrastructures is no longer sufficient to address the evolving threat landscape. With more remote users, cloud-based applications, and less-defined network perimeters, organizations need a comprehensive solution to manage networking and security together. A SASE architecture makes this possible by offering a unified approach that closes security gaps, reduces costs, improves network performance, and eliminates the complexities that come with using multiple vendors.
Let’s explore SASE security — what it is and how it provides the flexibility and agility needed to securely connect users and applications anywhere.
SSE and SASE: What’s the Difference?
It's helpful to think of SASE as a circle cut into two parts: One half includes networking and SD-WAN, and the other includes SSE, a subset of SASE and a collection of cloud-delivered technologies. Bring the two halves together, and you have a comprehensive architecture that encompasses critical security and networking technologies for modern-day enterprises.
What is SASE architecture?
SSE is one component of SASE. It works by delivering security from the cloud to users, using technologies such as Secure Web Gateway (SWG), Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA), Remote Browser Isolation (RBI), Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB), and more. While an SSE solution alone is valuable, there is a significant synergy that comes from combining these security features with the smart networking capabilities in SD-WAN.
SASE does precisely that — it delivers both networking and security as a cloud service designed to ease deployment and management and simplify scalability. Although SASE is a relatively new term, the technology itself is a collection of existing technologies optimized for the cloud, including SD-WAN and zero trust. It uses real-time context, based on enterprise compliance policies to safeguard users, branch offices, cloud services, applications, and IoT devices, allowing only legitimate traffic to pass through.
For example, a company with remote workers can use zero trust (a part of SASE) to provide secure access to its applications and data. Zero trust provides a secure tunnel between the remote worker’s device and the company's network, preventing attackers from intercepting data as it travels back and forth.
What is secure SD-WAN?
Many modern enterprises are looking for better ways to support their branch offices and remote workers as WANs become more widespread and their attack surface grows. This is where SD-WAN comes into play.
SD-WAN technology enables businesses to securely take advantage of low-cost direct internet connections and replace slow and expensive MPLS links. SD-WAN also allows businesses to prioritize and optimize network traffic through application identification and traffic steering. Companies can use it to segment the network based on priority, use case, and the cloud-managed policies put into place by the IT team. But what happens when 5G is added to the mix?
How does 5G play a role in SASE architecture?
Many enterprises have already implemented SD-WAN into their network architecture, but it may not be cellular-optimized, which is critical when using wireless WANs. Cellular-optimized SD-WAN uses 5G or LTE intelligence to steer application traffic through the network for better performance and economy. This will eventually enable capabilities like 5G network slicing, which breaks a network into virtual slices tailored to a business's specific needs. As companies increasingly embrace wireless WANs, migrating to a SASE architecture with 5G SD-WAN capabilities is more important than ever.
There’s no doubt that networking is evolving, and enterprises must keep up to maintain the best performance and security for their business. This means jumping on the SASE bandwagon sooner, not later.
What to consider when choosing a SASE solution
Gartner predicts at least 40% of enterprises will have explicit strategies to adopt SASE by 2024. But before migrating to a SASE architecture, enterprises need to make sure they choose a comprehensive SASE solution. Relying on multiple vendors for networking and security creates unnecessary challenges that complicate network management — especially for organizations with lean IT staff and a high employee turnover rate.
Having one vendor that provides 5G-optimized SD-WAN and security in their SASE solution reduces complexity by providing all features and functionalities in one platform for single-pane-of-glass visibility and simplified network management.