Exploring the Key Capabilities of SASE: A Comprehensive Guide

As digital transformation and remote work accelerate, IT teams need agility and scalability in their network infrastructure. SASE delivers these capabilities with a flexible architecture. It combines networking services, typically based on SD-WAN, with security point solutions (like CASB, ZTNA, and firewall) delivered as a unified service. This approach also shifts security to the edge.

Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA)

SASE is a comprehensive framework integrating diverse capabilities to modify network and security architectures. But what are the capabilities of SASE? The primary capabilities of SASE include Zero trust network access, or ZTNA, which is the framework of security that makes up SASE.

It replaces VPNs by securely connecting remote users to applications and resources without letting them into the main corporate network. Like a cloud access security broker (CASB), ZTNA uses contextual information to decide whether to allow or deny a connection. Still, it also applies intelligence at the edge of your network, closer to where people and devices work.

For example, it can use location-based policies to deny a remote device from connecting if it leaves a protected geographic area or requires it to upgrade its firmware to fix a known vulnerability before being allowed back in. As more enterprise functions are hosted outside the data center, including in IaaS provider clouds, SaaS applications and edge devices, traditional WAN security architectures can expose those locations. A SASE solution can address this by enabling an organization to deploy flexible security services, such as sandboxing, DNS security, credential theft prevention, next-generation firewall and data loss prevention, on a single platform.

Choosing a provider with a complete network and security services portfolio can simplify deployment and management, improve performance, and reduce the total cost of ownership.

Look for a solution that combines ZTNA with an SD-WAN, a private backbone and a comprehensive set of security services to provide a fully integrated, secure and scalable platform.

Converged Networking

Converged networking consolidates key security functions and network management capabilities into a solution architecture efficiently managed from a single platform. The goal is to deliver a unified network experience with the transparency needed to support multiple systems, whether on-premises or in the cloud.

This converged network architecture reduces technical and physical infrastructure requirements, making adding capacity and supporting new applications more affordable. This convergence is essential because digital organizations demand immediate, uninterrupted access to corporate applications from wherever they are located — not just the data center.

Traditional network approaches are outdated and no longer meet today’s enterprises’ security, performance, and user experience requirements.

Fortunately, SASE offers the solutions necessary to address these issues, including providing secure access to cloud applications and services, delivering a best-in-class user experience by prioritizing applications, leveraging Internet exchanges to optimize connections, and deploying zero-trust networks across the edge and beyond. By doing so, SASE provides the flexibility and scalability required for enterprises to support their digital business models.

Providers must offer the following core capabilities to be considered a SASE solution. Note that some vendors use broad definitions of what SASE is, which could include technologies like secure LAN/WLAN and SD-WAN as well as solutions like firewall as a service (FWaaS), CASB, remote browser isolation (RBI) and zero-trust network access (ZTNA). Ensure your SASE solution provider includes these critical capabilities to ensure it is truly a SASE.

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Cloud Web Security (CWS)

A key distinguishing feature of SASE is that security services are performed near users rather than relying on the corporate data center for access control. This reduces the attack surface and makes spotting anomalies in user behavior easier. It also provides more direct and secure connections to SaaS apps, eliminating the need for a CASB and associated backhaul costs.

SASE solutions can process and inspect cloud applications closer to end-users, allowing organizations to apply uniform policies and detect abnormal behavior in real-time. An important consideration when evaluating SASE providers is their breadth of expertise in both networking and security functions.

A provider with only a background in one or the other may need help delivering security services at the edge, especially when they promise to use SD-WAN infrastructure. A broad portfolio of networking and security capabilities ensures that enterprises can build a cohesive, consistent edge-to-cloud architecture that meets their specific needs. As a result, enterprises should look for a SASE solution that integrates network security and SD-WAN as a single unified service.

This simplifies management and cuts costs by reducing the number of vendors and hardware required in branch offices and remote locations. It also makes it easier to implement a comprehensive security framework that delivers on the promises of SASE, including identity-driven services that evaluate context such as user, device, location, application, and IoT/edge computing risk/trust posture to deliver more targeted and effective security policies.

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Edge Security

Unlike point security products requiring complex and expensive Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) lines to enforce network security, SASE is an all-in-one service consolidating networking and security functions. This reduces IT infrastructure complexity, optimizes performance, and improves the end-user experience. With a SASE solution, you can connect to apps, the internet, and corporate data wherever resources are located, without rerouting traffic to your corporate data center.

The SASE framework also provides fast, direct access to cloud applications for branch offices and remote users so that they can be productive anywhere. This is critical for enterprises that depend on the cloud to run business processes and meet the needs of a mobile, distributed workforce.

To maximize the benefits of SASE, it is important to choose vendors with a deep understanding of networking and security capabilities. Look for a SASE solution incorporating advanced SD-WAN with best-in-breed networking and security functions like zero trust networking, cloud web security and edge security to deliver agility, simplicity and scale to your enterprise.

Integrated with an edge device, SASE can process data close to where it originates or is transmitted. This reduces latency and congestion on your networks and helps to protect your data against a wide range of attacks. Leading SASE solutions provide a full suite of secure edge security features, including identity-based and threat prevention policies that prevent man-in-the-middle attacks and spoofing.

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