What is SASE? A 2022 Guide to the Tech

Businesses and service providers alike agree that Network Security is more relevant than ever, for various reasons. So many things nowadays make security a must have for any business, not to mention the use of applications based in the cloud, as well as how many people have been working remotely over the past couple of years.

Modern businesses require various security features to be set up, and it’s important that all of a network’s components have synergy. Some of these components, namely security, networking, and WAN, have been known to crossover into each other’s territory. That crossover is becoming more and more popular – many companies who previously only offered security are now offering networking features, and vice versa!

As security and networking continue to necessitate and support each other, it’s crucial that businesses begin to recognise this, and offer them together in a package to suit the needs of their customers. If not, it’s likely they’ll fall behind their competitors!

Enter SASE

As network as a service and security as a service converged in the market, the package consisting of both of them together has come to be known as SASE – Secure Access Service Edge. Both of these two services are built of multiple different features:

  • Network as a service is made up of features such as SD WAN, CDN and WAN optimisation, and carriers
  • Security as a service consists of features like firewalls, DNS WEB Security, Cloud Secure Web Gateway, and Zero Trust Network Access

These features have been around for quite a while now, but referring to them together as SASE is more of a recent development. Even though the package itself has been offered by various companies, it just wasn’t referred to as SASE until recently.

It seems likely that the amount of companies offering SASE will only continue to increase, as it is becoming more and more common. This should have the added effect of more platforms being able to support SASE as well!

Similarly to how SD WAN superseded the need for MPLS – for many businesses anyway – SASE could be the next big thing in the world of business IT networking.

Why is SASE becoming popular?

There have actually been a few big changes to how businesses function in recent years – all of which have contributed to the popularity of SASE. Here we’ll have a look at some of the main reasons, when considering a business using an MPLS system.

Reliance on datacentre applications

It’s common for a network to consist of a primary circuit as well as a backup circuit which usually doesn’t see much use. 80% of the traffic on the network stays on the network, being routed to and from the datacentre or HQ. It’s only the remaining 20% that tends to go out to the internet.

This is because frequently only the backup circuit is connected to the internet – just in case the MPLS circuit went down, or had any other problems. Having a backup connection to the internet means the datacentre can still be accessed in a problematic scenario. However, the applications on the primary circuit still don’t have a direct connection to the internet.

The rise of SD WAN

Many businesses adopted SD WAN since it allowed their primary circuit to have a direct connection to the internet. This meant that the performance of the network received a boost, as any traffic being used by cloud-based applications could be sent using the internet as opposed to the MPLS circuit.

The MPLS circuit could still be used for datacentre apps, with the added bonus of the bandwidth being lowered, since there would be less traffic to deal with. However, since SD WAN works by allowing data to be sent over the internet, it makes security very important.


Employees working from home

The past couple of years have resulted in large numbers of people working remotely, and for many companies, this has been very successful. Without the internet though, it’s fair to say that this success wouldn’t have been possible. The only problem is, with people working remotely, a lot of traffic isn’t being protected by in-house security.

If employees are using datacentre applications within the corporate firewall, they can use a company VPN, which can use split-tunneling to send them the traffic they need. Many don’t have to use these applications, however, meaning they aren’t receiving the same security, and data is vulnerable.

As you can see, recent changes have led to there being holes in the security of many businesses. SASE, with its Secure Internet Gateway – think cloud-based security and firewalls – attempts to patch these holes.

SASE – what’s next?

Now you understand that SASE is essentially various security and network features contained in a single package. The more features there are, however, means the more alerts and notifications that IT managers have to deal with. These alerts can often lack context, which can be frustrating when attempting to solve problems.

Imagine this scenario: you misplaced the keys to your car. You reckon you left them near the front door when you came home from work, so you go and investigate. Once you get there, you find that your door is wide open, and your keys are nowhere to be seen. These events, if presented as isolated incidents, might not be concerning, but together the correlation creates the context that your car might have been stolen!

SASE with further integrated security can present correlations to help provide context to IT managers. It could even be able to find and deal with security threats automatically – for example, if it suspects an email contains a phishing scam, it could stop emails being received from where it came from, and would stop any network traffic to that particular domain.

As we said earlier, networking is constantly in a state of evolution – and SASE with integrated security could be a huge step forward for the business networking world!

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