If ever there was a doubt that the cloud was not a powerful resource for organizations to achieve business success, the COVID-19 pandemic roundly debunked that lingering refrain – demonstrating with clarity the simplicity of operations, scalability, flexibility, and strong cost saving it offers.
The cloud proved critical to businesses around the world staying afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly as they had to radically pivot their operations to support their workforces working largely or completely remotely. Yet, it also revealed something unsettling – old methods of security and networking were not optimally architected to support the modes of cloud operations, let alone heavy remote-work environments.
Numerous notable security breaches occurred that showcased how shoehorning large amounts of remote workers, often situated at the edge and outside traditional WANs, onto authentication methods that worked – at least somewhat anyhow – for on-premises locales, wasn’t an ideal approach to modern workforce success.
They found that they needed to adopt an architecture that delivers the agility and security necessary to embrace these changed work paradigms. Ironically enough, industry research powerhouse Gartner had presciently forecasted a new approach that is ideally suited to not only improve edge networking functions for the modern, remote-first workforce but how to simplify and improve an organization’s security stack at the same time.
It’s called Secure Access Service Edge (SASE).
Are You Getting SASE with Me?
Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) is a new security architecture that blends next-generation firewall capabilities and Zero Trust network access to protect your cloud-based applications, data, remote and mobile users, as well as direct-to-cloud and cloud-to-cloud traffic – layered on top of an edge-networking-centric approach to access – into one integrated offering.
SASE combines network security, cloud security, and WAN optimization into a globally distributed cloud service. Gartner defines it as an architecture combining security and network technologies into a single cloud-based platform that enables secure and rapid cloud migration and adoption. SASE addresses the challenges surrounding digitization, edge computing, and workforce mobility by essentially converging networking and network security.
The SASE framework can help organizations simplify their IT infrastructure, improve threat detection, protect data more effectively, and implement adaptable solutions for making their business more flexible. It also ensures secure connectivity for people and devices irrespective of where they are located and lower overall costs.
SASE delivers a Zero Trust cloud approach that verifies every user and device’s access to applications, no matter where they are, and protects all application sessions, no matter where the user is located.
What Makes It SASE
The SASE platform encompasses several capabilities that include multi-factor authentication (MFA), single sign-on (SSO), Zero Trust network access (ZTNA), secure web gateway (SWG), and more.
SASE’s architecture comprises:
Software-Defined Wide Area Networks (SD-WANs) streamline the user experience by determining the best path to the internet, cloud applications, and data centers. They also facilitate the deployment of applications and services quickly, as well as the management of rules across a wide array of locations.
Cloud access security broker (CASB) is the core component of the SASE platform responsible for securing access to cloud applications and data. CASB is the nexus of control for managing user access and permissions, in addition to monitoring and auditing activities.
The secure web gateway (SWG) prevents unprotected internet traffic from reaching your network. It protects your company and your employees from malicious online traffic, and websites with vulnerabilities, viruses, and malware transmitted over the internet.
Zero-Trust network access (ZTNA) provides solutions and services for remote users to securely access your internal applications. The notion of Zero Trust implies no trust, stipulating least-privileged access to IT resources based on granular restrictions. With ZTNA, remote users can access your application without logging into your network or exposing it to the internet.
Firewall as a Service (FWaaS) provides firewall service through the cloud. It protects cloud-based networks, infrastructure, and applications against cyber threats. Unlike conventional firewalls, FWaaS is a collection of security features, including URL filtering, intrusion prevention, and uniform policy management that deploys your security parameters out to all endpoints in your SASE landscape, ensuring consistent protection. It eases many of the challenges of traditional WANs based on hardware firewalls, like patch management, hardware replacement cycles, costs, and more.
Benefits of Getting SASE
SASE deployments offer a wealth of additional benefits to organizations looking to improve their edge networking and security, as part of improving their digital transformation capabilities and further aspects of cloud adoption and success:
- Increased Cost and Operational Efficiency, Reduced Complexity: SASE lowers costs by simplifying the number of suppliers and technology stacks. Focuses on network-critical initiatives. It maps regulatory, business, and application-access requirements to the various capabilities of SASE.
- Greater Agility: Allows faster, easier deployment of new business models (apps, services, APIs) and data sharing, including with partners and contractors while reducing risk exposure.
- Improved Performance: Provides enhanced performance and reduced latency due to the selection of the most optimal connection routing path.
- User-Friendliness and Transparency: SASE utilizes fewer agents per device to deliver a consistent app experience across all devices, while also supporting policy updates without needing any additional hardware or software.
- Support for Zero-Trust Network Access (ZTNA): Enables seamless network and off-network security by identifying users, devices, and applications based on their unique identifiers rather than IP addresses or physical locations.
- Centralized Policies: SASE provides a centralized, cloud-based management system that encompasses distributed enforcement and decision-making.
- Least-Privileged Access: Ensures each user only has access to resources they need and nothing more. Manage any asset or resource depending on the policy, context, user, device, or application ID. Regulate network access depending on the location or IP address.
- Threat Prevention: Offers comprehensive security while allowing inline encryption and decryption; supports device-, user- and location-based risk profiling and assessment.
SASE – The Future of Security and Networking
SASE is fast evolving as an alternative for improved general and network security, but particularly around remote connectivity. Now that a remote-first approach seems to have become the norm for so many businesses, SASE offers them the opportunity to dramatically scale up their connectivity resources, while simultaneously easing their security burden.
It provides a ready platform for companies that rely heavily on VPNs and/or legacy connectivity layers, those needing to build their WAN out quickly and more cost-effectively as well as having limited security expertise or utilizing a patchwork of security solutions, to solve multiple challenges with relative ease.
Cloud computing is now the norm – any reservations about its use were eliminated by it how it demonstrated its value during the pandemic. Most applications have moved to the cloud, and organizations of all sizes have progressively moved on-premises infrastructure and even security functions to cloud providers.
This dramatic drive for digital transformation illustrates the need for agility and scalability, along with a decrease in the complexity of IT environments, especially as staffing shortages became prevalent and certain kinds of expertise – notably cloud and security knowledge – became hard to find. Companies realize they must provide global, consistent, secure, and reliable access to their corporate data, applications, services, and information from anywhere.
SASE is the future of cloud security and edge networking – it is radically different from traditional IT infrastructure in both its architecture and deployment, by combining cloud-native security technologies such as CASB, ZTNA, SWG, and FWaaS under a single umbrella.
Together with SD-WAN capabilities, SASE lets companies more efficiently and securely connect their systems, users, and endpoints to applications and services they depend on – thus improving security, flexibility, and performance while also reducing costs.
If you’d like to learn more about how SASE can help your business, contact us today to see how RapidScale assesses your needs and demonstrate how potentially deploying SASE may work to cohesively and dramatically reduce complexities around remote work networking, and security.