With more traffic going to remote users, cloud software-as-a-service apps, and branch offices, you need a new network architecture. SASE converges networking and security features, offering a least-privileged model and consistent policy enforcement while accelerating digital transformation and enabling secure mobility.
SASE also delivers Zero Trust network access (ZTNA). However, deploying a SASE model requires more than just switching out point products.
As enterprises shift their data to the cloud and use more software (SaaS) applications, remote workers and edge devices must have immediate access. Traditional network approaches and technologies have yet to keep up with the speed, scale, flexibility, and granular visibility digital organizations demand.
What does SASE stand for? SASE, or Zero Trust network access, is a new way of securing connections that replaces VPNs and DMZs with a more agile and secure identity-based model. It enables more types of end users to gain access without the risk that a compromised branch office or SaaS provider might serve as a beachhead into the core network, and also reduces latency for all users by reducing the amount of traffic that has to be sent back and forth between the edge and the data center.
Many SASE solutions identify and map users to their traffic sessions via tokens in HTTP request headers, client certificates, or API keys. However, if the user’s system is behind a NAT device and cannot send their authentication token to the SASE solution, they will not get authenticated. Policy match logic will assume the user is unknown. To address this, SASE solutions often generate browser notifications that prompt users to log in proactively.
Another advantage is that SASE combines multiple network and security functions to give enterprises more flexible security, performance, and scalability at a lower total cost of ownership. It can also eliminate the need for multiple hardware devices at the edge that could be exposed to cyberattacks or experience maintenance issues.
As businesses look to scale and provide access to cloud applications, data, and resources for a remote or hybrid workforce, they’ll need to consider the needs of their mobile and IoT devices. They’ll need to address a variety of security and performance challenges. SASE provides a way to do this with a single platform.
Rather than having a series of hardware appliances at each location, SASE allows IT to consolidate its networking functions into a single platform managed by the vendor. It can reduce costs, complexity, and maintenance and increase performance.
It also simplifies the security stack by allowing vendors to incorporate threat prevention, full content inspection, and Zero Trust into their platforms. It helps organizations meet the demands of a global workforce with consistent security and performance wherever their users work.
To make the most of SASE, enterprises must choose a vendor with a unified architecture that integrates security and networking services. They should avoid all-in-one solutions that require multiple integrations and daisy chains, as these can expose vulnerabilities and cause operational issues. Instead, they should select a single vendor that can offer a single interface for management and security and that can be easily scaled to accommodate growth. As they evaluate SASE vendors, IT teams should look for a combination of network and security features like WAN optimization, ZTNA, SD-WAN, caching, SaaS acceleration, and bandwidth aggregation.
When it comes to routing, SASE focuses on entities rather than locations. Unlike traditional networking models that rely on data center inspection engines, SASE solutions bring security and access closer to users. For example, suppose an end-user needs to connect to a public cloud application instead of backhauling the traffic to a firewall in a hub or headquarters. In that case, the traffic is routed directly to the service via a local point of presence. This approach reduces network latency and congestion while protecting critical data and applications from malicious activity.
To make this work, SASE is delivered as a unified service from your network provider and combines SD-WAN networking with advanced security functionality like CASBs, firewall as a service, and zero trust network access. It delivers a better user experience, reduces costs, and eliminates siloed solutions that may miss essential threats and anomalies.
Ideally, your SASE solution offers a global edge network with a large footprint, enabling high performance and consistent availability. It would be best to look for the ability to inspect encrypted traffic and address attackers evading other network control forms. And finally, you’ll want to ensure your SASE solution is easy to implement and manage to help simplify operations for your IT and security teams. It should also be able to automatically update with threat intelligence and provide visibility into your infrastructure.
Maintaining security becomes challenging as networks expand to accommodate a distributed workforce and software-as-a-service applications. With data traveling across the network to remote users, branch offices, and other locations and through a variety of devices (automobiles, refrigerators, web cameras, IoT sensors on industrial product lines, and more) in multiple places at once, the system must safeguard this data, even when it’s off the corporate network and outside of the perimeter.
Enter SASE offers many solutions addressing the security challenges in digital business environments. Its architecture integrates software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) and zero-trust network security for a cloud-native solution that securely connects users to their apps, systems, and resources.
Specifically, SASE uses DNS and URL filtering to prevent cyber attacks like malware, botnets, and denial of service (DoS) attacks. It also monitors and manages traffic with a flexible firewall as a service (FWaaS) that can handle the demands of an expanding network.
The all-in-one nature of SASE also reduces the number of networking and security solutions companies have to deal with. However, it’s crucial that businesses carefully vet SASE offerings to ensure that they offer everything they need. For example, SASE solutions from vendors with a background in networking hardware might not include the in-line proxies needed for SASE functionality, or they may lack expertise in evaluating user context and creating policies accordingly.