As businesses are adopting a Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) to facilitate remote working and multi-site networking, one area that is giving a great deal of concern is security. 

One way of ensuring your cloud-based infrastructure is secure is to buy a specialist software subscription. And depending on the complexity of your network, you might need multiple solutions. For instance, you’ll need one to control who has access to your network, a second to prevent malicious attacks and a third to block access to unauthorised sites. 

The problem with managing multiple security solutions is that it’s costly. And it takes up a lot of your time to configure the solution to your requirement. 

Ideally, what you need is an all-in-one solution that combines the benefits of SD-WAN with proficient network security. One particular solution that is becoming popular  is a Secure Access Service Edge (SASE, pronounced “sassy”) architecture. 

Gartner predicts that by 2025, 80% of enterprises will be using a SASE architecture. But what is SASE? 

In this article, we’ll explain what SASE is, how it is different from SD-WAN and explain the benefits.  


SASE Architecture Explained 

SASE is a cloud-based infrastructure that combines both Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) and Network-Security-as-a-Service (NSaaS) together and delivers them via a single cloud-based platform. The term first came to light back in 2019 by Gartner analysts Neil McDonald and Joe Skorupa. 

The goal of a SASE infrastructure is to deliver a highly secure and seamless connectivity amongst your staff, applications, data and multiple sites. In delivering both NaaS and NSaaS in a simple and cost-efficient manner, you have better network visibility of users, traffic and data while providing reliable network access to both employees and offices distributed around the world.


How is SASE Different from a Traditional Network?

Unlike the traditional network model, the data and applications in a SASE infrastructure do not live in a core data centre. Instead, they reside on the cloud edge, which is the intersection point between a local network and a cloud server. When your data and applications are stored on the cloud edge, it reduces latency and delivers optimum performance.

The traditional model is ill-equipped to deal with the complexity brought by remote working and cloud-based services such as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), with the typical company using up to 100 SaaS products. This is because when someone needs to access a SaaS product, all the traffic gets rerouted to a central data centre to ensure secure access. But with the influx of traffic caused by remote working and a multisite network, it causes a bottleneck and slows everything down.

A SASE infrastructure essentially diverts the role of central data centre to the cloud edge, which reduces latency and delivers a faster experience. 


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Before we go into the core security components of SASE, let’s clear up a misconception. When SASE first emerged, many assumed this network model would overtake SD-WAN. That is far from the truth.

To clarify, SASE is no way replacing or competing with SD-WAN. 

In fact, SD-WAN is actually a core component of SASE. The key thing to keep in mind is that SD-WAN enables you to achieve better connectivity for your network that comprises remote workers, IoT devices and multiple sites. SASE, on the other hand, provides all the benefits of a SD-WAN network, but addresses the ever-growing security concerns of organisations who are undergoing a digital transformation.


Understanding the Core Security Components of SASE

By combining the advantages of  SD-WAN with cloud-based security, it allows your staff to securely access your data and applications from anywhere in the world. This gives you more control over who accesses your internal resources.

A typical SASE will include the following NSaaS solutions:


Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA)

A ZTNA helps to control who accesses your data by verifying both the user and device before granting access. This solution prevents unauthorised access and data breaches. It also removes your data and resources from the public view while providing transparency on who has access to which data or application.


Software Defined Perimeter (SDPs)

A software-defined perimeter (SDP) is a security approach that conceals your network from anyone outside your organisation to prevent access. It acts as a virtual boundary to  hide your network located both on-premise and in cloud-based servers.

SDPs will only allow access to a user through identity verification and authenticating the device. 


Firewall-as-a-Service (FWaaS)

Unlike traditional firewalls which are a physical application, a FWaaS is completely cloud-based. A FWaaS protects your SaaS products, network and critical business application against malicious cyber attacks. You can set a number of security capabilities such as intrusion prevention, URL filtering and implement standardised policy management across all network traffic. 


Secure Web Gateways (SWG)

A SWG acts as a filter to block staff from accessing unauthorised websites or doing any suspicious online behaviour. It also filters out dangerous content and prevents internal data breaches. Some SWG will have anti-malware scanning to identify any rogue websites.


Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASB)

A CASB comes with several security features. It detects the use of unauthorised corporate systems by rogue employees and performs ‘sandboxing’, which is designed to run any programs in an isolated environment to determine if it is suspicious. It also lets you run a user’s browser on a remote server rather than the device. This protects against harmful code breaching confidential data stored on the device. 


What Are The Benefits of SASE?

When comparing SASE to a traditional model, it offers following benefits:


Control Who Has Access To Your Data

Under SASE, it will not grant network access to users until their identity has been verified, even if they are already part of your private network. You can go further and implement policies to determine user access based on location, time of day and staff seniority level. 

It is important to note that a SASE tends to rely more on the Zero Trust Security model.


Prevents and Blocks Malicious Attacks Against Your Network

Thanks to FWaaS and CASB components, a SASE can protect your network against external attacks such as Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks and malware. It also keeps a look out against any harmful websites that would expose your network to any malicious code.  


Streamlined Implementation and Management

Since SASE merges your network and security services into one place, it’s much easier to access and look after your cloud stack. 

When you have to work with multiple vendors, a lot of time and money is wasted to ensure each vendor is configured to your requirements. Under the SASE model, you free up more resources to be allocated on more important projects that can generate more revenue. 

Plus, when you have all your security services in one place, you’re not managing multiple policies at once. A SASE lets you set a single policy across all users, devices and locations.


Reduced Latency

With the network routed to the cloud edge, all data is processed as close to the user as possible. This provides a faster, more seamless user experience.


To truly understand the benefits of SASE, read our FREE report detailing how it makes cloud-base networks more secure and globally accessible.

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SASE Is The Future of Cloud Security

The adoption of SASE infrastructure is heavily linked with the adoption of remote working along with the need for secure access to data. SASE provides network benefits of SD-WAN and security capabilities in one place. 

Unlike the traditional network architecture, where data and applications reside in a central data centre, SASE leverages cloud-based services and pushes the role of data processing to the cloud edge. This approach reduces latency, enhances network visibility, and allows for better connectivity of employees and offices globally.

As digital transformation continues to shape the modern business landscape, adopting SASE becomes increasingly critical to ensure a secured cloud-based network.


To learn more about the future SD-WAN and how SASE will vital role in enterprise adoption of a cloud based infrastructure, download our free report:

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