AT&T adds managed SASE to portfolio

Comms and IT provider AT&T teams with security specialist Fortinet to offer network solution based on SASE principles to support distributed workforces and solve associated challenges

Despite great optimism for its success over the past year, secure access service edge (SASE) has to date failed to live up to its billing, but it could get a boost from US comms giant AT&T which, with Fortinet, is now offering what it says is the first global managed SASE solution at scale that unifies leading networking and security technologies to make SASE more resilient, making safer networks a reality for enterprises.

A term coined by Gartner in its 2019 Networking hype cycle report, SASE has been pitched as the logical extension of software-defined wide area networks (SD-WANs) and a more effective way of ensuring the security of remote workforces than virtual private networks (VPNs). Yet despite the pandemic-driven mass uptake of remote working, and hence remote network access, research has found that new working practices have not led to wholesale SASE and software-defined perimeter (SDP) adoption and that enterprise VPNs remain the most widely trusted technology to serve distributed workforces.

AT&T SASE with Fortinet is said to be the first global managed SASE solution at scale that unifies SD-WAN with essential network security functions of the SASE framework and 24x7 management. Its combination of people, processes and technology is said to help enterprises enhance security, increase network performance, and reduce complexity and costs.

Such capability is important, said AT&T, due to the fact that digital transformation is driving the convergence of networking and security as technology teams realise the challenges of managing and protecting increasingly complex networks and the connections that support them. In addition, it said networking and security needs were changing as more employees accessed the network from unique locations and a variety of devices.

AT&T also said organisations were looking for technologies based on SASE principles to solve these challenges through point product consolidation, identity-based access, and worldwide points of presence to support a highly distributed workforce. With this consolidated approach, enterprises can also reduce operational costs by moving to a single cloud-delivered solution.

Attempting to offer a differentiator for its SASE solution, AT&T said that as the largest SD-WAN managed service provider in North America, and one of the world’s largest managed security service providers (MSSPs), it had a unique understanding of what businesses need as they modernise and transform their networks, including the importance of security being a critical component of any business initiative.

It said the inclusion of round-the-clock management would help relieve the burden of deployment and day-to-day support, with security operations centre (SOC) analysts acting as an extension to a business’s network and security teams. AT&T SASE with Fortinet integrates with the AT&T Alien Labs Threat Intelligence platform, enabling and unlocking multiple response actions which provide SOC analysts visibility into network security.

Assessing the potential of the solution, Ghassan Abdo, research vice-president for worldwide telecoms, virtualisation and CDN at analyst firm IDC, said AT&T’s position as a global leader in managed SD-WAN solutions and its tenured experience delivering managed security solutions to customers around the globe would create a strong value proposition for customers looking to take advantage of the convergence of network and security controls.

AT&T SASE with Fortinet is immediately available and updates to the offering will be made throughout 2021.

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