SASE (Secure Access Service Edge) is a cloud-based framework that encapsulates an organization’s networking and security functions, ensuring secure business operations from multiple end-point devices, branch offices, edge servers, and locations. It enables employees to work on both cloud-based and legacy tools with the same level of security and performance.
Consequently, SASE (Secure Access Service Edge) has grown by leaps and bounds since Gartner first introduced it in 2019. According to Markets and Markets, the SASE market is projected to grow to $5.9 bn by 2028.
Secure Access Service Edge offers companies benefits like reduced capital expenses, network agility, enhanced remote access experience, and optimized cloud security. However, with any new technological approach, there is some confusion and challenges around its implementation and adoption. SASE challenges are also a bone of contention for enterprises.
The adoption of SASE involves multiple players. Hence, before you, as a CTO, think of implementing SASE for your enterprise, let us first see the role of each –
Vendors – Vendors are the companies that offer versatile tools required for creating and implementing a SASE architecture. Some vendors provide a comprehensive SASE solution, known as a single SASE vendor. However, some vendors offer a part of a SASE architecture (like a Secure Web Gateway or a Cloud Access Security Broker). You can opt for a multi-vendor or a single-vendor approach while deciding on SASE adoption.
Managed Service Providers (MSPs) – MSPs offer end-to-end services to companies in SASE implementation, migration, vendor selection, and management. Opting for MSPs helps enterprises save the time and effort of implementing SASE themselves.
Let’s see some SASE challenges that enterprises can encounter during implementation.
The term “SASE” was introduced to the world by Gartner only four years back. As promising as the SASE framework sounded, companies will need time to start trusting it. Most of them still have network teams that believe in the traditional modus operandi and legacy network media.
In addition, when a company decides to implement SASE architecture, the first question it needs to address is – “What should we do with the existing IT infrastructure?” As you have invested heavily in your IT infra, you can’t just discard all of it and migrate to the cloud one day.
Hence, before adopting Secure Access Service Edge, you first need to analyze your existing tool stack and its compatibility with the cloud environment. You need to decide which tools you want to retain and which you want to replace with cloud apps. Otherwise, you will be left with many devices with the same capabilities.
Moreover, a lack of a SASE migration strategy can lead to tool sprawl, which results in a lack of data flow, increased costs, and siloed architecture.
SASE is a particularly new concept for companies. Most IT professionals have years of experience in handling in-house operations but not managing a hybrid cloud environment.
Hence, before adopting it, you must do a thorough skill assessment of your existing network and security teams. It will help you analyze if they can carry out SASE implementation, network monitoring, and tool integrations.
If not, it is recommended to conduct training sessions and workshops to make them well-equipped with SASE. You can also consider opting for a managed service provider (MSP). The MSPs have a skilled team of professionals with expertise in handling hybrid cloud networks and security.
Various vendors in the market offer solutions to build your SASE framework. For instance, some vendors might offer network-specific tools while others may have expertise in the security domain. With many tools available in the market, it could be confusing for the network and security teams to choose the right ones.
The companies should be familiar with their existing IT infrastructure and security practices before embarking on the journey to find the right vendors to build their SASE framework. They should also analyze their scalability requirements and compatibility issues.
The network and security teams are the lifeblood of any organization. However, these critical functions generally work in silos. However, SASE requires both network and security teams to work as one unit.
Since SASE brings network and security to a unified cloud-centric platform, it is vital that the internal teams also collaborate to optimize change management, bandwidth performance, and policy management, among other things.
Not having a holistic SASE approach can cause issues in SASE implementation, resource allocation, and gaps in security infrastructure.
Another major SASE challenge is keeping network and security functions at optimal levels.
SASE involves routing traffic through cloud-based points of presence (PoPs) for security and optimization purposes. However, this can introduce latency and affect network performance, especially if an organization’s architecture is not designed correctly or the chosen SASE solution lacks adequate PoP coverage.
Hence, you must analyze parameters like security protocols, network policies, associated threat landscape, etc., before implementing SASE for your enterprise.
SASE as a framework involves multiple tools and technologies, such as SWG (Secure Web Gateway), CASB (Cloud Access Security Broker), and Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) working together. Various vendors in the market, such as Netskope, Palo Alto Networks, Zscaler, and Akamai, offer components for SASE architecture development. However, integrating all the tools for building a comprehensive SASE environment can be a headache for enterprises.
Moreover, the existing network and security infrastructure might not be compatible with the SASE components. Some of the common challenges in integrating SASE capabilities may include inefficient data flow and ecosystem management, among others.
Choose a single vendor that offers an all-in-one solution for SASE. According to Gartner’s Market Guide, around 33% of SASE deployments will prefer single vendors by 2025. A single SASE vendor eliminates the challenges of integrating different tools and platforms from multiple vendors. However, it might pose the challenge of vendor lock-in. Firstly, SASE as a concept is still in its nascent stages, and there are not a lot of vendors available to choose from. Secondly, you will also have to agree with the pricing they quote.
Hence, you need to analyze your requirements, budget, and existing IT infrastructure to make the right decision.
Deploying a SASE framework involves complying with data privacy regulations. However, it is easier said than done. In a hybrid cloud environment, data passes through several touchpoints, making it challenging to ensure compliance. Sometimes, the data even crosses geographical boundaries, where the data regulations of each country are unique.
To overcome this challenge, you must choose a SASE provider that complies with the data privacy regulations.
SASE was introduced to the world as a model to ensure seamless and secure business operations on the cloud for remote users. However, as the workforce and geographical diversity increase, it can be challenging for the IT team to manage and ensure the same level of user experience for everyone.
Hence, you need to ensure that the SASE architecture you implement is scalable in terms of network as well as security.
Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) comes with its own set of challenges. However, its benefits overshadow the challenges by a long way. To overcome the challenges, you need to set a clear roadmap for SASE implementation, choose the right vendors, and bring your network and security teams together.
You can also choose a managed service provider to handle your SASE issues and ensure a hassle-free process. Once you have successfully implemented SASE for your enterprise, your workforce can work on multiple toolsets and platforms with the same level of performance and security.