What is SASE and why should you care?

It was 2019. A year in which no one had yet heard of COVID-19, and we were all happily going to our offices to work. Even then, security for mobile users was an issue of rising concern. Performance challenges and a need to better manage costs were also increasing. It was the year that research and advisory firm Gartner, Inc. coined the acronym SASE; a new area of expertise that companies are now exploring with growing interest.

The issues around the digital workforce and the need for SASE skyrocketed in the last year, as everyone instantly needed to be able to work from home. SASE as a term circulated the world wide web as security and risk management leaders eagerly started looking for ways to increase the safe use of company solutions and data. But what is SASE? And why is it coined as a separate area of expertise?


What is SASE?

SASE is an acronym for Secure Access Service Edge. SASE as an area of expertise brings together networking and cybersecurity. As a technology, it consolidates extensive WAN capabilities, such as SD-WAN and Network Optimization, with comprehensive network security functions, such as SWG, CASB, FWaaS and ZTNA. Together they support the dynamic secure access needs of digital enterprises, according to Gartner.

‘The secure access service edge is an emerging offering combining comprehensive WAN capabilities with comprehensive network security functions (such as SWG, CASB, FWaaS and ZTNA) to support the dynamic secure access needs of digital enterprises.’ – SASE according to Gartner, Inc.*

In simpler terms, SASE provides software-defined, policy-based secure access which puts the focal point on the user or the device and its context. Therefore, policies are based on the required performance, reliability, security and cost of every network session. This is in sharp contrast to the traditionally predominant focus on the data center.


Why Gartner coined the term SASE

Traditionally, it made a lot of sense to place the data center at the heart of network and security, since users and devices were placed around it in the same network. Performance and latency issues were minor to non-existent, while security was locally managed and easily adaptable for all users and devices. But this becomes a problem when applications, users and devices are no longer located in the enterprise network.

‘Instead of forcing various entities’ traffic to inspection engines entombed in boxes in the data center, we need to invert our thinking to bring the inspection engines and algorithms closest to where the entities are located.’ – Gartner, Inc.

Traditional architecture problems such as latency, networking blind spots, and excessive management overhead increased due to the constant reconfiguring that took place as services changed. Enter: SASE. The promise of SASE lies not only in the consolidated technology for networking and security, it also works on a more strategic level of acknowledging that you need to future-proof the architecture as well.

One of the futureproof elements of SASE is its cloud-native characteristics. This means that a mature SASE solution is scalable and encompasses self-healing and self-maintenance. It will also support secure connections to whichever remote network you have set up and need to access. While, of course, applying security policies based on user, device, and context. This will ensure that your architecture is ready for the future, equipped to support your worldwide growth.

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