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Why organisations should transition to a single-vendor secure access service edge
Wed, 14th Feb 2024

Escalating online security threats and varied network environments are driving the need for better security and networking solutions. This shift is leading businesses to adopt secure access service edge (SASE), a model that provides reliable and consistent security, improved user experience, and increased operational efficiency across different architectures and locations.

The shift towards flexible working models distributes activities between on-campus locations and remote environments. This new reality requires companies to rethink their current campus-centric network architecture approach. SASE is now the ultimate solution to bridge this gap, as it effectively moves security closer to the individual worker and the applications they use.

SASE is the convergence of branch networking and security, incorporating elements like software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN), secure web gateway (SWG), cloud access security broker (CASB), and zero trust network access (ZTNA). This convergence facilitates a uniform management approach, enforcing comprehensive policies across networking and security sectors. It improves manageability and provides a superior user experience (UX).

One of the misconceptions about SASE is that it's just a cloud-based virtual private network (VPN) or cloud-based proxy, only suitable for large corporations or remote work settings. However, SASE is much more than that. It provides a broad range of functionalities that go beyond a traditional VPN, offering extensive security and network management capabilities.

There are currently two main deployment strategies for SASE. The first involves dual vendors, one for SD-WAN and another for the security service edge (SSE). This is primarily due to different vendors' expertise in specific domains. Owing to varying customer needs and existing infrastructures, the SASE market is inclined towards dual-vendor solutions. However, the trend is shifting towards single-vendor solutions, driven by integrating security and networking teams, alignment of refresh cycles, and the maturation of single-vendor capabilities.

Single-vendor SASE solutions are especially gaining traction among mid-market and smaller enterprises because of their simplicity and standardised requirements. They support the 'work from anywhere' model, ensuring consistent policy enforcement and manageability, irrespective of the user's location. The benefits of this approach include:

  • Improved security posture: single-vendor SASE solutions enhance overall security by integrating various security functions and networks into a unified platform. This reduces the likelihood of misconfigurations and security gaps and simplifies the security architecture, leading to a more consistent robust defence against threats.
  • Simplicity and ease of management: consolidating networking and security services into a single solution streamlines administration. This unified management approach offers better automation, making it easier for organisations to enforce consistent and context-aware policies across their networks.
  • Optimised network performance: these solutions are designed for optimal performance with services often available in the same locations, leading to improved traffic management, reduced latency, and better bandwidth utilisation, enhancing the overall performance of the network.
  • Reduced total cost of ownership (TCO): a single-vendor SASE solution can be more cost-effective due to potential discounts and lower operational expenses. This consolidated approach reduces the complexity and costs of managing multiple vendor relationships and solutions.
  • Streamlined monitoring and troubleshooting: businesses can monitor and troubleshoot their network and security infrastructure more effectively with a single vendor. This unified approach leads to quicker issue resolution, better service reliability, and easier management of the entire IT infrastructure.

By 2025, a significant shift towards single-vendor SASE deployments is expected, driven by the value of integrated networking and security solutions in terms of manageability, security posture, and user experience. This holistic approach, embracing the journey from traditional networking to a secure, integrated SASE solution, highlights the need to adapt to a scenario where users and applications are increasingly mobile and distributed, requiring robust, flexible, and efficient networking and security solutions.