Networking 101: Understanding SASE

The growth of software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN) has delivered many opportunities for enterprises large and small — allowing them to transmit data wirelessly and have more control over how their networks communicate with one another. Businesses can maximize technologies like LTE that promises faster broadband speed and virtual private networks (VPNs) for more secure transactions. Moreover, since much of the control and management is delivered as a software, it is more scalable, easier to implement, and more affordable.

However, no one expected the immense demand for the internet. In 2019, about 4.13 billion people used the World Wide Web. That’s around 50% of the world’s population and significantly higher than the figures back in 2016.

Despite the robustness of SD-WAN, this technology may not be enough to meet the needs of the users: faster, reliable, and more secure connectivity.

To solve this problem, there’s SASE.

Also read: Remote Work Could Boost SASE, Slow SD-WAN

What Is SASE?

SASE (pronounced as “sassy”) stands for secure-access service edge. It still capitalizes on SD-WAN, but also throws in security and cloud services into the mix. SASE shares similar principles with edge computing.

To illustrate how it works is to follow a data trail without SASE. At present, network architecture is pretty straightforward. The information travels to the cloud and/or data centers in different parts of the world.

While it seems simple enough, it can be problematic once more people are using the same pathway. Vast amounts of data can create a bottleneck, and it can lead to latency. Furthermore, it erodes bandwidth traffic and may even lead to data loss due to the long journey the information needs to take.

Then there’s the issue of cybersecurity. As more devices and users connect to the same cloud and network, malicious actors now have various entry or access points.

Also read: Best Practices for Securing Edge Networks

The Benefits of SASE and Why It Matters in 2021

Using SASE can help minimize, manage, or even eliminate the growing pains experienced by SD-WANs. This is especially necessary in 2021 when more companies and individuals are working from home.

In fact, according to a Stanford University research, the United States is already a “working-from-home” economy. Over 40% of the country’s workforce is already doing their jobs remotely. Only 26%, called essential workers, report to the office.Meanwhile, companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Shopify now allow their employees to work from home indefinitely.

This setup means that workers should be able to access all the tools they need to do their job without compromising the network’s security. Moreover, they should receive, share, and collaborate data in real-time.

With SASE, organizations can:

1. Save money during transition

SASE can extend the same infrastructure employees have in the office without spending more on hardware, such as computers, cables, and a lot of other pieces of equipment. This is because the network itself is already in the cloud, accessible anytime, anywhere. Altogether, SASE can bring down the setup costs commonly associated with work-from-home arrangements.

Companies are also no longer at the mercy of dealing with multiple vendors and lock-in contracts. Whether their workforce expands or contracts, they can scale their needs quickly.

2. Reduce latency and bandwidth traffic

As mentioned, SASE also has “the edge” element — but what is edge computing? It is a model or concept wherein data is processed near to its source instead of being delivered to the cloud or to multiple data centers.

Many industries are already using the edge for faster data insights. These include smart grid technologies.

The edge allows smart utility companies to monitor and analyze data in real time. They can forecast fluctuations, including the common times for peak demand. If they use a middleware, they can also control the utility head-end systems and integrate it into the IT component of the business.

Because data is already processed near the source with SASE, it relieves the network from data congestion. Businesses could then reserve the bandwidth for less time-sensitive information that needs to be stored or accessed via the cloud. This also means that SASE can work better than VPNs.

3. Provide better security

The more devices and people are connected to the internet, the higher the cybersecurity risks. In 2019 alone, attacks on IoT devices increased by threefold during the first six months. Meanwhile, within a year, over 60% of companies revealed that a hardware-level breach compromised their data.

The SASE model already integrates the zero-trust approach, which is based on the principle that no network or user should be trusted. Therefore, all types of access need to be authenticated or verified, among other necessary cybersecurity steps.

The good news is SASE can eliminate the common issue with zero trust, which is the lack of flexibility due to tight restrictions, by verifying a user or a device fast. SASE can also combine other security tools, such as cloud access security brokers (CASBs), data loss protection, and firewall as a service.

4. Grow their workforce and business with ease

For many small and medium enterprises, one of the elements that separate them from multinational corporations is the use of high-technology tools. Fledgling companies cannot afford to invest in complex network architectures complete with data servers and a team of IT analysts.

On the other hand, some big companies are stuck with legacy systems that restrict their ability to maximize the internet. And even if they have the capital, they can still feel limited by the availability of bandwidth and more possible expenses to cater to changing employee arrangements like remote work.

SASE can help even the playing field by giving SMEs cost-effective, scalable cloud services and WAN. Businesses can also expand their workforce by tapping on outsourced workers outside the country. This is because security is better with SASE and latency is reduced due to edge computing.

Redefining the Workplace with SASE

Gartner, which first introduced the SASE model, sees a bright future ahead for it. By 2024, at least 40% of enterprises will have concrete strategies on how to implement SASE. This is in line with the other predictions made by Gartner. The research firm stated that by 2023, organizations that can effectively manage their technical debt could increase their service delivery times by 50%. Within the same period too, network operational activities in over 55% of data centers will be fully automated.

SASE is likely to end all internet connectivity and cloud usage woes, but it makes enterprises more adaptable and agile to accommodate changes in the workplace.

Read next: Is SASE the VPN Killer?

Michael Sumastre
Michael Sumastre
A technology writer since 2005, Michael has written and produced more than a thousand articles related to enterprise networking, cloud computing, big data, machine learning, and AI.
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