Cyber security

Service providers that have been offering software defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) for several years more recently have entered or have been exploring the secure access service edge (SASE) market – a market that some see having tremendous growth potential.

Dell’Oro Group forecasts the SASE market to grow at a compound annual rate of 116%, reaching a market value of $5.1 billion by 2024.

SD-WAN and SASE are closely linked, and both are being driven by two important trends for enterprise customers — the move to cloud services and the rise of remote workers triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

SD-WAN services enable a company to improve network performance and reduce costs by providing two types of connectivity to individual locations – typically MPLS for mission critical traffic and less costly direct internet access (DIA) for less critical traffic. SD-WAN technology allocates traffic between the two types of connections based on pre-established parameters and based on network conditions at any point in time.

This approach has caused companies to rethink their traditional approach to security, which traditionally was delivered from a centralized data center location, with traffic from other locations backhauled first to the data center before being sent elsewhere. The traditional approach is becoming increasingly impractical as more and more traffic is destined for various clouds supporting various cloud applications.

As a report from Futuriom sponsored by Nokia’s Nuage Networks unit explains, “decreasing the need for backhaul has been a driver of SD-WAN services, which optimize the routing of applications to cloud resources as efficiently as possible – which means the same platform can be used to more effectively connect cloud-delivered security resources.”

Service Provider SASE Opportunities

SASE terminology originated in 2019 in a white paper from Gartner that outlined key concepts underlying the technology.

Cisco summarizes those concepts in a useful ebook titled “SASE for Dummies”:

  • Enterprises are increasingly cloud-native, with more sensitive data located outside the enterprise data center in cloud services
  • Security capabilities to be delivered should depend on user identity – a departure from the traditional approach tied that tied security to specific locations
  • Edge computing will support SASE services, enabling security capabilities to be applied when and where needed
  • The SASE will be supported by an “intelligent switchboard” where “identities are connected to networked capabilities via a worldwide fabric of secure access capabilities”

Service providers that have been offering SD-WAN services may be well positioned to deliver SASE services but will need partners.

  • In March 2021, AT&T launched SASE services through an alliance with Fortinet
  • In June 2021, Verizon launched an SASE offering using technology from Versa and Zscaler
  • Windstream, which has had considerable SD-WAN success, announced an SASE partnership with VMware in October 2021

SASE is an important technology to keep track of moving forward, as some stakeholders are tremendously bullish about the technology’s potential.

For example, the author of the Futuriom report argues that “the whole of network security could eventually be subsumed into SASE.”

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