Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) emerged as a Gartner buzzword in 2019. Since then, vendors have populated the cloud security market with numerous SASE products and services. Getting to the root of SASE means understanding a bit about Software-Defined Wide Area Networks (SD-WANs), the Anything as a Service (XaaS) market and the current state of cloud software security.
Put simply, SASE combines network security functions together with principles of SD-WAN. SASE is typically delivered on-demand in the cloud, as a managed service — part of the ever-expanding tapestry of “as a Service” solutions made possible by cloud computing. SD-WAN enables IT departments to direct network connectivity and functionality as discrete software functions instead of relying on specialized networking hardware.
SASE bundles individual existing cloud security tools into one complete solution. SASE aligns network security functions including Firewall as a Service (FWaaS), Secure Web Gateway (SWG), Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) and Zero-Touch Network Access (ZTNA).
SASE has developed out of necessity to respond to changes in enterprise security forced by cloud adoption. The old hub-and-spoke distribution paradigm for IT — backhauling all corporate data through a data center — doesn’t scale to the cloud. And it certainly doesn’t make sense for enterprises looking to decentralize network operations to start with.
Moving operational and business processes to these cloud service platforms offers workers and businesses better operational flexibility, but exposes a new environment of information security threats and challenges. Corporate data is increasingly distributed through sometimes dizzying and complicated arrays of on-premise data center, co-location facility and public cloud.
Simplified security in the cloud
Initial SASE solution offerings were often complicated to use, implement and scale, sometimes requiring alignment and handoff between different vendors’ software to operate. Single-stack SASE solutions have become a way for vendors in the space to differentiate themselves.
And being able to provide complete SASE solutions as managed services is proving to be a business opportunity for telcos. Orange Business Services is adding Fortinet’s SASE to its telco cloud, for example. BT is offering VMware SASE after successfully first offering the company’s SD-WAN capabilities as a managed service.
The need for unified SASE solutions continues to fuel strategic partnerships and acquisitions. In February, Juniper acquired ZTNA expert WiteSand in a bid to enhance its Mist network management platform with enhanced SASE capabilities. At about the same time, cloud software security company Cloudflare acquired Vectrix to improve its Cloudflare One platform with CASB capability.
SASE isn’t just about connecting personnel working from home or remote office locations. It provides a secure framework for devices, services, edge computing locations and more and has emerged as a way of providing a unified end-to-end security architecture designed for the cloud and operating in the cloud, to manage increasingly porous hybrid cloud data distribution and use.
Gartner, which defined the category, claims SASE is the fastest-growing cloud opportunity in the network security market. The company is predicting more than 41% year-over-year growth for the SASE market, topping $6.8 billion in 2022.
“In addition, by 2025, more than 50% of organizations will have explicit strategies to adopt SASE, up from less than 5% in 2020,” said Gartner.
“As most traffic from branches and edge computing locations will not go to an enterprise data center, CIOs and IT leaders will increasingly use SASE to secure the anywhere and anytime access needs from users and devices,” said the company.