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Blog · 23 Jul 2021

SASE: Beyond the hype

Discover how to navigate the hype around SASE to get the right solution for your organisation.

Dominic Elliott
CTO EMEAR Partners, Cisco

The last 18 months has proved that the future of business lies in the cloud, and organisations that hadn’t at least started their cloud journey found it hard to navigate through the pandemic.

While some organisations were able to get employees up and running from home seamlessly, by finding a quiet room and connecting their own devices remotely, another client we were working with had to buy hundreds of desk phones and get phonelines delivered to every employee’s home, just to keep their contact centres running. 

But while the cloud brought agility and resilience to many, taking on so many new locations and devices also introduced a new set of security challenges and concerns. To address some of the emerging risks in the cloud, a new term started to surface among many of our customers, Secure Access Service Edge (SASE).

Today, as the hype continues to grow around this term, we’re getting more and more clients coming to us and asking for ‘a SASE’. But what exactly do they mean?

SASE is a journey, not a product

SASE is a new, holistic strategy that brings network and security together into a service that delivers secure access across every edge of the expanding network. SASE is still a relatively new concept, and the technology is only just catching up. What’s on offer can vary, and organisations need to look carefully at what’s included in a “SASE product”, to make sure it has everything they need. In many ways, SASE should be seen as a journey towards an ideal goal or state, for next-generation secure, networking architecture.

So, what’s driving organisations to look at adopting this new strategy?

The need for more agile networks

Increasingly organisations are realising their networks need to become more scalable and agile as many remote workers need a reliable connection to applications to keep running. Most traditional, fixed virtual private networks aren’t able to offer this kind of scalable access. At the same time, very few companies are in a position where they can tear out their old infrastructure without causing significant disruptions.

Fortunately, SD-WAN offers an attractive and flexible solution, by leveraging the fixed network already there to help organisations deliver Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) in the cloud to give strong application performance and fast responses wherever employees need to gain access. In this way, many organisations are starting to evolve from fixed and private MPLS to a more flexible and interconnected networking strategy. But the changing shape of the network is opening up organisations to new risks that are now also putting pressure onto the security department.

A SASE approach is a critical element of security

When companies transform their networks to allow scalable remote access, more critical data is leaving the confines of the trusted data centre and moving into the cloud. The traditional security architecture companies have used for 25 to 30 years relies on the old-fashioned assumption that data would be kept permanently inside the perimeter of the corporate network, and so firewalls were always placed around this perimeter to keep intruders out.

Now that data is moving to remote locations outside their firewall, companies need to find new solutions to protect their entire estate. This is why SASE is an attractive concept, because it suggests organisations could embed security beyond their traditional perimeter and into their SD-WAN and cloud locations, to make sure any user’s location or device is secure before it can access precious data.

Security and network teams must work together

As the need for security embedded into the network grows, so does the need for the security and network departments to converge. Historically, most security and network departments have operated in distinct silos, using separate buyers for each team’s transformation budget. But increasingly we’re seeing a shift, with CISOs beginning to lead on the procurement of SD-WAN solutions. It looks like, in future, these departments won’t be able to make buying decisions in isolation. To achieve a successful adoption of a SASE solution, networking and security will have to start working together to realise the same plan, and that plan needs some alignment. These changes may take some time, so organisations need to begin work on laying these foundations now, so they’re ready for SASE in the near future.

Navigating the hype

Together with BT, our longstanding partner of over three decades, we help organisations find the right navigational course for their SASE journey, by using our combined experience in networks and security. We make sure you get that much-needed agility over your network, improve your security posture as your business transforms, and can still keep using the legacy systems you’re probably going to need for, at least, the foreseeable future.

To find out more about our combined services please visit:  https://www.globalservices.bt.com/en/aboutus/partnerships/bt-cisco-partnership

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