In the end-of-2020 cybersecurity word cloud – a swarm in which floats the most frequently seen, heard, and spoken words in the industry – one four letter acronym will appear bigger and bolder than all the rest: SASE. When discussing Secure Access Service Edge, most of the excitement surrounds its unifying characteristics and how IT finally has a consolidated tool for both networking and security from the cloud.
SASE will improve security and make it easier to achieve, but along with this simple idea comes other benefits. Anticipated less frequently (given that these solutions aren’t being widely consumed yet) is how SASE also delivers better performance across the organization in terms of throughput and productivity. Performance is a complement to the security delivered to companies, thanks to multiple factors including SASE’s presence on the edge, its low-touch quality in terms of IT effort, and the clarity it brings to networks.
A central tenet of SASE is that the network is no longer organized around resources that are held in the headquarters, so security needs to match this arrangement. SASE therefore exists in the cloud where its network security functions can be easily integrated into both local and cloud architecture, and managed from a single panel.
Key to the networking chops of SASE is that providers with a global backbone of data centers are able to put resource access portals closer to where employees and branch offices reside. Instead of every employee connecting to the same resource through a single point, they can do so with their individual devices through gateways nearby. This offers employees around the globe lower-latency access to the tools they need for work.
Speed is increased further due to the lower amount of network congestion that occurs due to SASE’s user-focused access policies. Because it’s built on SD-WAN, organizations using SASE for distributed, secure remote access are able to also create custom rules for certain sources of traffic. This reduces the bandwidth allowed to low-priority users or guests on the network, for example, and it all happens with rules that trigger based on granular qualifiers such as location, device, role and more. With the visibility that SASE provides over network endpoints and resources, it’s easy to “direct traffic” autonomously and efficiently.
Finally, since SASE is a unified solution, customers of a single SASE provider such as Perimeter 81 have multiple choices even within individual security tools. For example, if a company’s network is seen to enjoy faster connection times and lower latency while using the WireGuard encryption protocol, instead of the IPSec or SSL protocols available with other vendors, then they can freely switch to it or even create rules that determine under which traffic conditions these various protocols are applied.
With traffic controls, segmentation, better visibility and local gateways pushing resources to the edge, it’s no wonder that networks on SASE run seamlessly and smoothly. However, that’s only half the equation. SASE also reduces costs and simplifies the processes that IT engages in, which improves departmental performance significantly.
IT employees no longer have to navigate several different misaligned security solutions each with various ways to control access – they need only to login to their centralized SASE panel, on which all functions related to networking (access policies, segmentation, creation of users and groups, traffic rules, gateway building etc.) and security (enforcement of tools like 2FA, DNS filtering, encryption etc.) reside.
The sheer amount of time saved maintaining, patching, configuring, and returning to the same tools every time the organization adds a new resource or user is astounding. Not only does this cut costs in terms of the raw number of solutions managed by any organization, it also cuts the burden of time invested from IT’s side, and gives IT managers more leeway to assign proactive, performative, and potentially profit-seeking IT activities to their staff.
With SASE as a multitool – almost a Swiss Army knife of network and security functionality – organizations can clean house and quickly consolidate the various security vendors and subscriptions they used to consume. Suddenly having the same total utilities but concentrated into one tool is a self-explanatory advantage, but the residual benefits – mostly performance related – will be more visible as SASE gains market share.