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What exactly is SASE, and what makes it like a smartphone?

08/06/2021 by Eric Biederbeck

Hand holding a smartphone with a lock icon (resembling security) and a network graphics as visual overlays.

Do you still have a fixed telephone network at home? Do you use cheques? Own a physical address book? Send postcards or letters? Use an analog camera to take your holiday photographs?

Chances are, you answered ‘no’ to at least one of these questions. The reason? Smart devices have fundamentally changed the way we live and communicate by digitizing everyday tasks.

When you can access everything from one place, it’s much easier than carrying around a chequebook, address book, spare change and more in your pockets. Smartphones have consolidated so many of the things that used to be separate, bringing them all into one location. Now you can relive a past holiday, send a catch-up email to a friend and check your bank balance in just a few taps.

Just as smartphones have consolidated physical objects, SASE offers the same functionality for software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN). Often a much-cited buzzword, SASE is a term used to describe a network architecture that rolls SD-WAN networking and security into a cloud service to simplify WAN deployment, much in the same way that your smartphone consolidates several apps to give you everything you need from one source.

Where does the term SASE come from?

SASE stands for Secure Access Service Edge. While it was only given this name by Gartner in 2019, several SD-WAN specialists, including Deutsche Telekom, have been following a SASE framework for SD-WAN for several years. It is a method that essentially creates a single pane of glass through which you can view your network and security in the same place.

SASE brings together the network capabilities of SD-WAN, with heightened security solutions within a single, holistic solution. The network service of SASE focuses on solutions typically delivered by most SD-WAN vendors, while the security element relies on cloud-access security brokers, zero-trust network access, firewalls-as-a-service and remote browser isolation. While it is possible to implement SD-WAN without a SASE architecture, introducing enhanced security elements in isolation can lead to spiraling costs, a complex vendor landscape and a requirement for more hardware. With SASE, end users all enjoy the same access experience regardless of what resources they need and where they are working from, with SASE simplifying the authentication process.

How does SASE improve SD-WAN?

A common myth about SASE is that it is a solution designed to bolt-on to existing SD-WAN technologies for heightened security, but this is not the case. Instead, SASE is an architecture methodology that can, as an option, maximize the effectiveness of SD-WAN and streamline your network infrastructure.

SD-WAN deployed within a SASE architecture creates a seamless, secure, and well-connected offering to end-users, businesses, and technical teams responsible for network connectivity and maintenance.

It’s similar to the email app on your smartphone, which is likely connected to a mobile security device, with the two applications working in harmony together.

Benefits of SASE

We could write a whole blog article just focusing on the benefits of SASE, but some of the clear winners are:

  • Cuts down on cost and complexity due to single service offering.
  • Reduces the amount of hardware needed on-site/on location.
  • End users have the same high-quality experience regardless of where
    they access and what resources they need access to.
  • Security policies are enforced with Zero Trust Network Access and protect against external and internal threats.
  • Reduces administration time around deployment, monitoring and maintaining systems for technical staff.
  • Policies can be set centrally by teams and rolled out via cloud systems to be enforced at the correct point for users.

What does SASE mean for your network strategy?

Ensuring that your network and security providers are working to deliver the results you need is critical to business success. With remote working more in demand than ever, having added levels of security while maintaining bandwidth and network responsiveness is essential, not just ‘nice to have’.

In the same way that smartphones are becoming more and more integral to daily life, keeping up with technology trends is no different when it comes to network services. SD-WAN on a SASE architecture allows you to support vast numbers of staff who are working remotely or from a mixture of locations. It means you can better protect against the security threats and issues that are traditionally associated with VPNs and remote firewalls. SASE is also very flexible thanks to its central controls. You can scale the service up or down as needed and adjust security settings to match.

Employees can effectively access resources from any location with access assigned to staff profiles centrally. There’s no need to wait for permissions and checks. Furthermore, SASE allows for secure, authorized access while protecting with Zero Trust authentication.

SASE is the architecture or foundation structure upon which to build your SD-WAN solution, bringing together your new network capabilities with heightened security within a single, holistic solution. In the age of ‘New Work’ where connectivity must be secure and on-demand, SASE provides a single pane of glass for all your communication requirements.

To understand more about SASE and SD-WAN, get in contact with our team of specialists today.

Do you want more insights from smart connectivity and network professionals?

Eric Biederbeck

IT Consultant at Deutsche Telekom Global Business Solutions