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SASE (or ‘Secure Access Service Edge’), pronounced ‘sassy’, is an emerging architecture that converges networking and security capabilities into a single, cloud-managed platform. And it’s gaining some serious momentum. Gartner has predicted that by 2024, at least 40% of enterprises will have explicit strategies to adopt SASE.
The momentum and excitement around SASE has come as a result of the dynamic workforce (and resulting security issues) we collectively created during the Covid pandemic: today’s workers expect seamless access to applications wherever they are, on any device. It is now common practice to provide remote employees with direct access to SaaS applications such as Office 365 and Salesforce – all of which require additional security. And the need for cloud-delivered security services expands daily as contractors, partners and IoT devices each require network access; IT teams need to protect users and devices as if they were located in an office or in a branch.
This is all the more crucial as cyberattacks and ransomware attacks continue to surge, causing widespread disruption and anxiety when a business is targeted. A cybersecurity report from Checkpoint claims that globally, cyber-attacks increased by 29% last year, and ransomware attacks surged by 93% in the same period. Global brands, universities, small businesses; no one is exempt from being targeted and no one is protected from this.
Every business is unique, with different architectures and goals and moving to a SASE framework is no different. Cisco Meraki’s Head of Product Marketing Grant Shirk, together with Paul Flack from Gold Certified Partner, Stone, share three reasons why businesses should consider moving towards a SASE architecture and what the key benefits are.
1.To secure a hybrid workforce
For businesses where hybrid work has now become the norm, a SASE approach can help bolster security, compliance, and sustainable IT operations that ultimately enable greater business agility and resiliency.
Shirk says “In a hybrid work environment, employers are striving to keep employees connected and secure, optimising their productivity and saving IT teams time and effort. By providing flexibility for employees to move seamlessly on-site and off, organizations receive increased organisational agility, greater productivity, and true employee engagement. To make that happen, they need to ensure consistent, zero-friction, and connectivity to provide secure access to every resource, workload, and application –, regardless of location.”
Paul Flack at Stone adds “The characteristics of the new hybrid work model have created challenges for IT business leaders and their existing networks. Bandwidth-critical use cases such as device connectivity, network security/cybersecurity, employee onboarding, upgrading/updating applications, and technical support now need to be managed from both on-prem and off-prem deployments. In this new paradigm, IT requires a simple and reliable approach to protect and connect with agility. This is forcing a convergence of networking and security functions closer to users and devices, at the edge – and is best delivered as a cloud-based, SASE model.”
2.To reduce complexity and costs, whilst bolstering security
Because of the unique SASE architecture, CIOs can feasibly deliver the IT trifecta: better performance and low latency, an overall excellent user experience, and reduced operating costs, all whilst offering enhanced protection from online attacks. It’s a recipe for real agility, in a time of constant change.
“Across industries, we’re seeing material cost savings” says Shirk. “42% of organizations leaning into SASE have seen up to 25% cost reductions. And 100% of those teams reported that they’ve saved 10% or more time deploying, maintaining, and troubleshooting.”
A key factor to these efficiencies is the low barrier to entry for SASE. Often using a unified subscription, pay as you go model, businesses are able to start small and easily scale up and down, adapting to their business needs. Stone’s Paul Flack says “A unified, single-platform SASE as-a-service solution lowers the operation cost of turning on new services, while converging your architecture and consolidating vendors. As the costs associated with a data breach are ever increasing, mitigating that risk is a business-critical issue.
3.To accelerate the move to full cloud
With more organizations accelerating their journey to a fully cloud operating model, SASE is a natural stepping-stone along the path. A direct step up from an SD-WAN model for network design and management, SASE quickly adds security, policy management, and provisioning on top of existing SD-WAN features and functions.
Paul Flack says: “The idea behind SASE is to converge security and connectivity to be delivered as a cloud service. Many organisations still need on-prem solutions as part of their network topology and business needs. A key capability of SASE is Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) and having policies and checks done at the edge and follow the user. The main challenge with traditional models is the need to backhaul traffic and security checks through a central location.”
The rapid adoption of hybrid and remote work was the catalyst for propelling SASE from an early adopter’s ideal to a practical reality for many organisations. Now, SASE solutions are increasingly delivered as a cloud-based, turnkey service. Easy to deploy, use, and manage through a unified cloud dashboard, SASE can significantly reduce organisations’ operational complexities and build greater network resiliency, improve agility and speed, all while protecting users and their business.
To learn more about SASE and how you can get started on your own journey, visit Cisco Meraki.