Why and How to Get Started with SASE

Amid today’s hyper-complex security landscape, Secure Access Secure Edge (SASE) has garnered heightened interest with CISOs.

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Hybrid IT environments — multiple clouds, edge, on-premises infrastructure, a distributed workforce — are putting the old approach to network security to the extreme test. The traditional centralized approach via MPLS and VPNs is becoming not only expensive, but also challenging to secure against ever-evolving cyber threats.

These factors are driving strong enterprise interest in Secure Access Secure Edge (SASE). Clear benefits are recognized by 98% of organizations, according to the 2021 CISO Survival Guide from Cisco Investments. What’s more, 55% are targeting 25% to 75% of their security budgets for SASE.

SASE architecture creates a secure “bridge” across access and infrastructure. Access is predicated on identity, whether that’s an individual, device, application, or service. SASE combines networking and security functions in the cloud; connects users to the apps and data needed — in any environment, from anywhere; and controls access and enforces the right security protection consistently.

Organizations are at all different stages of SASE adoption, and they’re driven to implementation by different factors, according to the survey:

  • 33% cite exponential increase in the use of cloud applications and devices
  • 33% are motivated by the convergence of network and security
  • 22% are seeking to allow for continuous access and authentication
  • 11% are trying to mitigate the complexity of the remote workforce

“It’s the data in the cloud that’s scaring the bejeezus out of everybody,” says the CISO of a multinational universal bank. “That’s why you have to leverage SASE to solve for things like edge monitoring and data loss protection.”

The link to zero trust

Many organizations see the correlation between zero trust and SASE, with 42% saying that zero trust network access (ZTNA) is their top spending priority within SASE.

For example, Prudential started moving toward the zero trust model some time ago. It was within this context that SASE became “an enabler for the outcomes we’re trying to achieve,” said Thomas Doughty, CISO of Prudential.

However, Doughty said zero trust and firewalls are only pieces of the SASE journey. “None of these architectural choices are about ‘implementing SASE.’ They’re about increasing network efficiency, more elegantly integrating a mosaic of external services, and improving user experience.”

Thus, Prudential’s roadmap to SASE was about truly integrating network operations (NetOps) and security operations (SecOps). In practice, Doughy said, “This means there needs to be a closed loop of understanding what the business and application owners’ requirements are.”

He is also quick to point out that it is a journey.

“At the end of the day, SASE really isn’t just a security discipline or a security question,” he said. “It’s about changing — but more importantly embracing — what the fabric of your network architecture (and frankly our underlying application architecture) is as well as what you expect of it.”

How Cisco helps

Whether you’re seeking to uncomplicate the security around your organization’s hybrid IT environment, secure remote workers, or work toward the integration of NetOps and SecOps, Cisco can help you on your journey to SASE.

As you consider use cases and ways to link existing investments to SASE, Cisco recommends having three goals to guide the path:

  • Connect: Deliver a secure, seamless connections to applications anywhere
  • Control: Establish zero trust access and protect against threats
  • Converge: Integrate cloud-delivered networking and security

The overall point is to start now. Your organization may not immediately switch to an integrated SASE platform. Therefore, it is imperative to work with a vendor like Cisco that maps out an incremental adoption of component technologies on a roadmap toward overall SASE integration.

“SASE isn’t a light switch — it’s a journey,” a global insurance company’s vice president of cloud technology said. “So, start laying the groundwork and foundation today, or you’re going to fall behind.”

Get started with SASE today. 

 

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