Is SASE the Modern Network?
CMO, Versa Networks
February 2, 2021
Deploying point solutions to address the growing needs of a remote workforce and the challenges of an evolving threat landscape is straining the Enterprise bank. As organizations struggle to balance network requirements and IT costs, SASE, with its cloud-native architecture and software-centric approach, is emerging as an effective solution to slash the unpredictable and unsustainable cost spikes.
The rapid consumption of cloud-native applications, the sudden surge in the number of remote workers, and the business imperative to fast-track digital transformation have collectively had a daunting effect on the enterprise WAN networks. The data center focused legacy WAN network is presenting new performance, security, and operational challenges when forced to accommodate the evolving requirements of the cloud application landscape and the remote workforce. Investing in workarounds to overcome these challenges is driving up IT costs and pushing organizations into an economic slump.
SASE Reduces IT Costs and Complexity
To bring down the IT spend, restore economic balance, and efficiently support modern workforce needs, IT leaders are now turning to SASE or Secure Access Service Edge. SASE is a new enterprise networking and network security model that converges networking (SD-WAN, routing, policies) and security functions (SWG, CASB, FWaaS, ZTNA) in a unified cloud-native architecture. By creating a modern network, SASE allows users to flexibly and securely connect to cloud applications instead of taking a pit stop at the data center. A SASE software-defined approach and the tight integration of networking and security enable organizations to re-calibrate their WAN networks and enable a scalable, secure, and sustainable modern network for the future.
Taking A Closer Look At The Cost Benefits of Implementing SASE:
- Reduced bandwidth costs:
With the remote workforce simultaneously accessing business-critical applications on multiple cloud platforms, there is a torrential influx of network traffic. Backhauling all the traffic to the data center before routing it to the cloud eats up precious MPLS bandwidth quickly, leading to network downtime and poor application performance, translating into lost business opportunities.
SD-WAN, one of the networking slices of SASE, helps lower recurring costs by offering the ability to combine budget-friendly internet broadband and 4G LTE links along with the MPLS to meet increased bandwidth demands. Compared to MPLS, broadband and 4G LTE links can be provisioned easily and quickly, which helps spin up new branch sites within days, improving business agility. To provide secure, direct access to cloud applications, SASE takes security inspection out of the data center and distributes it across a global PoP network. This distributed policy enforcement helps optimize bandwidth usage and thereby lower bandwidth costs. SASE also offers QoS capabilities that allow organizations to dynamically route traffic based on application priority. Establishing QoS helps ensure bandwidth availability for business-critical applications and avoid costs incurred due to operational disruptions.
- Reduced network management and IT staff costs:
A typical legacy WAN environment involves service-chaining several physical and virtual appliances such as firewalls, secure web gateways, VPN routers, and anti-malware sandbox appliances that are deployed at every branch location. These appliances are sourced from multiple third-party vendors and often come with integration and interoperability limitations. Integrating, managing, patching, and racking these appliances is a cumbersome task, requiring skilled IT labor. As a result, organizations are compelled to invest in training the networking and security staff to bring them up to speed. Further, policy changes demand that IT staff physically visit every branch site for manual box-by-box configurations, escalating the operational costs. Other associated costs include those that go into appliance replacement (every 3-5 years) and power consumption that makes the overall management cost quickly outgrow the budget.
On the contrary, SASE consolidates all networking and security capabilities within a single multitenant, cloud-native software stack, eliminating the costs and complexity of acquiring and maintaining stand-alone appliances from multiple vendors. The entire network can be easily operated and managed from a single-pane-of-glass interface, requiring no extensive training or expertise. SASE also allows policy configurations and updates to be rolled out across the enterprise directly from the cloud, cutting down on the operational overhead costs of manual branch visits and individual device configurations.
- Reduced security costs:
Operating in multi-cloud environments and enabling remote access to cloud applications has opened up the network to new vulnerabilities. Unlike the old days when all applications resided in the data center, there are multiple perimeters to protect today and greater security risks to fight. The legacy WAN network with centralized data center security is inadequate to combat today’s sophisticated cyberattacks that target multiple WAN edges. The cost of a data breach is inarguably high and can strike a crushing blow to the business economy. According to IBM Security’s “Cost of a Data Breach” report, the global average total cost of a data breach in 2020 is $3.86M and the United States has the highest country average cost of $8.64M. Besides the cost damage, a security breach also impacts business operations, jeopardizing consumers’ trust and the organization’s market reputation.
To protect today’s heterogeneous networks, SASE brings cloud platforms, data centers, branch offices, remote and mobile users under one umbrella and protects them with one unified security policy. As a cloud service, SASE allows the IT team to make dynamic changes to security policies and apply them to any part of the network from a centralized system. This makes it easy to adhere to local regulatory mandates, avoiding non-compliance fines. SASE also bridges the security gaps of remote access VPNs by implementing ZTNA (Zero Trust Network Access), a security model that trusts no one and verifies everyone entering the network. Unlike the VPNs, ZTNA goes beyond source/destination IP addresses and TCP information and authenticates users based on their identity, real-time contextual attributes, application policies, and more. This helps shut out insider threats and lateral network movement. With its centralized cloud-based network management, SASE also provides the IT team with end-to-end network visibility and control to proactively predict threats and accelerate incident response. Together, SASE’s security capabilities inherently minimize the risk of a security breach, and therefore the cost.
- Reduced scalability costs:
Extending the networking and security capabilities to new branch locations or remote users can incur significant costs as this would mean provisioning new infrastructure, whether it is the VPNs for remote employees or commodity products for new branch sites. Adding new VPN links or setting up new hardware is a complex, time-consuming, and expensive process, involving many IT resources. On the other hand, SASE makes the WAN network easily scalable by offering all networking and SASE capabilities directly in the cloud, eliminating the costs of installing and maintaining any physical infrastructure. Because of the cloud-native architecture, SASE makes it easy for organizations to adopt new functionalities for fortifying security or improving network performance. This, in turn, boosts enterprise agility driving new business opportunities and better profitability.
As business leaders plan their IT budgets for 2021, cutting down the networking and security costs is a top priority. With legacy WAN infrastructure unable to keep up with the evolving trends, network modernization is the only way ahead.
It is clear that SASE is the modern network.