SASE (Secure Access Service Edge)

The secure architecture of future WAN

Leaders are transitioning to SASE architecture

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Category: SD-WAN, SDN


15.09.2021

The transition of many companies to remote work as a result of the Sars-Cov2 virus pandemic causing Covid-19, has created a new challenge for companies – ensuring the security of cloud architecture and data protection. Cisco SD-WAN is trying to meet this challenge, offering a new model of secure SASE cloud architecture. Many companies from various industries have chosen this solution, so it is worth a closer look. 

Covid-19 is changing the perception of cloud architecture 

The Sars-Cov2 virus pandemic, which causes the dangerous Covid-19 disease, has left its mark on many areas of social life. A number of companies have had to switch to remote work and ensure effective work in a distributed environment, and thus face certain technical limitations and challenges with regard to network security and data protection. 

What have we noticed?

Distributed team connectivity

Companies were faced with the task of ensuring fast and uninterrupted communication for a dispersed team.

Companies had to adapt their technical data center (DC) infrastructure to new circumstances. Classic architecture, which forces traffic to be directed through the control panel, with an unprecedented scale of video and audio communication, was not able to fulfill this task. No self-respecting company can afford significant disruptions and delays in communication.

The use of direct internet access in distributed locations, recommended by SaaS vendors (e.g. Microsoft365), has caused management problems due to the need to ensure security in these locations. This is a major change for companies whose energy has so far been focused on data protection in the company’s headquarters.

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced all companies to rethink data security. It seems that the virus made it very clear to both the government and entrepreneurs that the ability to quickly switch some systems to SaaS cloud solutions is a competitive advantage. Traditional data centers are not as flexible as the cloud. 

What is SASE 

SASE (Secure Access Service Edge) addresses the challenges of securing both distributed data and users, regardless of their location and the devices with which they connect to the network. SASE uses software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) connections, secure web gateways, and cloud access security brokers (CASB).

Neil MacDonald, Gartner’s vice president, and analyst who coined the term in 2019, originally predicted that about 40% of companies would implement SASE by 2024. It seems that the Sars-Cov2 pandemic will significantly accelerate this process, as the SASE model is better able to meet the challenge of protecting cloud data than the technologies used so far. 

It should be noted, as indicated by most cybersecurity experts, that infrastructure connecting the cloud and mobile devices (and this is the most common combination for remote work) is one of the most difficult when it comes to protection against attacks. Already mentioned Neil MacDonald indicates that companies that have implemented SASE are 80% more successful in business than companies that are either unaware of SASE or are delaying its implementation. 

SASE and SD-WAN – benefits for the company 

Providers of network technologies, with the emergence of the need to protect cloud data, began to design and create solutions in the spirit of SASE. One of the companies whose products are based on the SASE philosophy is the world tycoon Cisco. 

With regard to cloud data protection, Cisco SD-WAN provides companies with a number of benefits: 

· Built-in security (security and network convergence) – traditional WAN solutions treated the network and security layers as separate domains. This implied the need to purchase, apart from the WAN solution itself, also security solutions, e.g. from other manufacturers. SASE architecture breaks with this approach and enables you to take care of network capacity and security with a single solution. Besides, this solution is much cheaper than standard ones. 

· Monitoring of business applications, detection, and prevention of intrusions or URL filtering. One of the many security functions offered by SD-WAN, fully appreciated by the market, is provided by Cisco Umbrella

· Greater flexibility of operation thanks to the possibility of configuring traffic security globally for the entire network and overwriting the settings for selected locations. 

· Optimisation of costs related to the operation of network infrastructure – reduction of connection costs by over 80%, network maintenance by 38% annually. 

· Smooth transition from Secure SD-WAN to Secure Access Service Edge – Cisco SD-WAN enables, depending on the needs of the organization, smooth integration into SASE architecture and its adaptation to the structure and operations performed in the company. 

Cisco – the designer of the solutions of the future 

SASE is a network architecture model that has gained recognition not only among entrepreneurs but also among industry experts. Cisco received the prestigious Tech Trends Award 2020 from CRN for its SASE solution.

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced many companies to accelerate the digitization process and look for technological solutions that can meet modern challenges, including those related to remote work and data protection. Hence the interest in SASE SD-WAN solutions.

This technology has already come to Poland, and we have our share in it. Grandmetric is responsible for the first implementation of the Cisco SD-WAN in Poland (for the Pfeifer & Langen sugar factory network).

Now, both the WAN and Internet connection at each location are 5 to 10 times faster than they were before migration to SD-WAN.

says Marcin Jaźwiec, IT Manager, Pfeifer & Langen Polska

Since 2019 there we have seen a significant increase in inquiries about SD-WAN solutions. The group of companies that noticed the advantages of this technology and decided to implement it is growing from quarter to quarter. One of the key issues enhancing the described interest is built-in security mechanisms and an innovative approach to the use of available connections and application routing. 

Summary 

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought many challenges that companies face. One of them is the adaptation of IT architecture to contemporary needs related to remote work. Increasing network capacity while protecting it against undesirable incidents is a problem that companies must solve as soon as possible. Whoever does it faster and better will gain a competitive advantage. 

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