We are in the Digital Era and this is driving change at a rate we have not experienced before. IT systems and applications are the nerve centre of every business creating the digital thread that streamlines processes and equips our people to be more efficient. Data is viewed as the new oil of commerce where smart analytics are driving faster and better decision making and our customers, whether these be other businesses or consumers, are demanding to engage with us digitally through our website, apps and system to system interaction.
To operate in the Digital Era requires a fundamental change in the IT Landscape. We need to create environments that are agile and will enable our business to change and adapt at speed. We need scalability and flexibility to respond to the ever-changing needs of the business and our customers, and equally as important, we need to create a secure environment that protects our end-users, our business-critical applications and the data that our customers trust us with.
The New IT Landscape Brings Challenges
Today’s IT Landscape is built around Hybrid Cloud. You are likely to have migrated some of your business-critical applications out of your data centre into private cloud environments; you are probably utilising public cloud services to augment this infrastructure and across your business you are leveraging SaaS-based applications to serve the needs of the business.
Whether driven by the recent Covid Pandemic, or something that had started to evolve before this, your end-users are likely to be far more mobile. You need to support central office locations, remote branches or outlets, employees working from home and even people out and about in the field using their own mobile devices.
As an IT Leader, you face a new challenge, the perimeter of your IT infrastructure has been redefined. Systems are no longer centralised and protected by traditional perimeter-based security; they are dispersed across numerous clouds including infrastructure that you do not own. Access to these systems and the associated data is no longer via secure office to office connectivity controlled by authenticating corporate-owned devices onto your network, but by any device in any location – how do you ensure this is secure?
The Answer is SASE
SASE (pronounced “sassy”) is a framework that looks to provide a next generation architecture that converges how we provide access through the wide-area-network (WAN) with the services that enable us to secure this access and this network.
The Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) is a concept first introduced by Gartner in ‘The Future of Network Security Is in The Cloud’ (2019). It is a framework architecture that converges the network (in most cases the SD-WAN) with today’s network security services (such as Secure Web Gateways, Cloud Access Security Brokers and Firewalls-as-a-Service).
The principle of SASE is to provide policy-based ‘software-defined’ secure access from an infinitely flexible network that supports boundary-less working. A network that enables access in central offices, remote branches, for home or remote workers and for IoT connected devices, to the systems, applications and data that are used, regardless of whether these are on-premises, in private clouds, public clouds or consumed as SaaS applications.
SASE enables secure access to be provided based on the identity of the entity, real-time context, a company’s security/compliance policy and the continuous assessment of risk/trust throughout the session. This fundamentally changes how we think about security; rather than it being a topology of appliances that are positioned at certain junctions of the connectivity journey, it is a set of services that are applied based on context and policy and applied across every possible route from network edge to core service.
Starting Your SASE Journey
SASE is a framework. It is not a single solution, but a collection of solutions that enables you to secure your network based on context and a zero-trust principle. It allows you to reduce complexity and cost of securing your network, it enables you to consistently apply your security policies across any device in any location and it makes the experience of your end-users easier and more secure.
So where do you start? First is to understand more about the principles of SASE and the value it can bring to your organisation. We would recommend that you read our best practice guide: The Role of SASE in our Digital Era.
Second, you plot your SASE roadmap. How do you charter a path to a SASE approach to securing your network? What are the priorities that you are addressing today and could you address these in a way that progresses you on your journey to SASE?
You may be embarking on a WAN refresh, a firewall upgrade programme, reviewing secure access management or looking to put in place a secure web gateway. All of these initiatives can embrace SASE and move you forward on your roadmap.
At NAK we are helping organisations to understand and embrace the SASE approach to network security and hybrid clouds. We would love to share our thoughts and help you to plot your SASE journey. You can contact the team on 0300 456 0471 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org