SASE in focus for enterprises in post-pandemic 2021

Recently in this ‘ere blog I took off tangentially a couple of times from a recently published customer survey carried out by Cato Networks, itself at the epicentre of an IT pandemic known as SASE.

One area from the survey: https://www.catonetworks.com/news/legacy-security-architectures-threaten-to-disrupt-the-remote-workforce-finds-cato-networks-survey – I didn’t actually focus on was the SASE impact itself. As I’ve mentioned before in this blog, SASE (AKA “Sassy”) is Gartner’s mega baby from the end of 2019 that brings together NetOps and SecOps and to which vendors have nailed their colours to, like it’s the first hour of a Black Friday shopping spree. But neither Gartner nor vendors are always right, so let’s see what the users themselves had to say in the survey results. Well, it does look positive for SASE: 91% of respondents said they expect SASE to simplify management and security, that being the primary aim of the movement. Moreover, a similar number said that SASE would be very/extremely important to their businesses post COVID-19. And, of those who’ve already adopted SASE, 86% of respondents experienced increased security, with 70% indicating time savings in management and maintenance, 55% overall cost savings and greater agility, while 36% saw fewer complaints from remote users, and the same percentage realised all of these benefits. That’s a significant number!

Importantly, these benefits have been seen to help enormously with the COVID-related landscape companies have been operating in for 12 months now. Perhaps key here is that 55% who reported greater agility in adapting to new conditions or challenges – we are witnessing an ever-changing global landscape right now, that is unarguable. So, marry this to what was already a radically changing IT landscape, thanks to cloud adoption, significant changes within a company’s IT infrastructure as job roles move around and “power” changes hands, and we have potential for chaos, crash and burn scenarios. With respect to internal infrastructure adaptations within companies, control has – in many cases – changed hands, so admin-level, rather than tech-level individuals are increasingly given more significant roles in moving IT forward within the business. Over the past two decades, IT in general has seen a change in mindset, from technology-driven thinking to a solutions-based approach and this is being reflected within the infrastructure itself.

What all this means is that there has to be a new structure in place – this is what SASE is attempting to address at the networking and security levels. In this way it can also potentially solve the ever-deepening IT security skill shortage by creating guidelines for security best practices and cloud self-maintaining architecture – that’s a framework to build on. This theory was reflected in that survey with confidence running high in SASE’s ability to meet tomorrow’s challenges. A whopping 69% of respondents were very confident in their SASE networks’ ability to adapt to industry and business challenges, more than any other architecture and higher than the overall confidence score (57% of respondents).

The survey also asked respondents about the broad sweep of SASE architectures present in the industry – i.e., not all SASE solutions are created equal. Loosely those architectures divided into appliances and cloud services. What the survey uncovered was that SASE benefits become particularly evident when the SASE service was either of the following:

  • Converged, connecting and securing users and resources everywhere.
  • Cloud-native, applying the cloud’s scalability, elasticity, and agility to handle compute-intensive security and network processing often limited in branch appliances.

The footnote here is that while 58% of respondents indicated they were satisfied with migrating to SASE cloud services, only 29% indicated the same for appliance-based SASE solutions. The takeaway here then is that packaging security and networking into a cloud service, managed and updated globally in real-time, monitored and maintained by the provider is deemed to address the ongoing IT challenges. As I said, not all SASE solutions are created equal…

 

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