7 Key Considerations Before Purchasing a SASE Solution

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One of the biggest challenges facing IT teams today is providing work-from-anywhere (WFA) employees with secure, reliable, and authenticated access to critical corporate assets, applications, and resources.

It is crucial to have enterprise-grade protection, whether workers are on-premises, working from home, or anywhere in between.

Today’s hybrid networks are only as secure as their weakest link. Consequently, when the pandemic forced many to suddenly shift to working out of home offices and other off-site locations, a spike in malware, particularly ransomware, was experienced worldwide. Cybercriminals moved quickly from attacking the corporate network to targeting poorly defended remote and non-traditional workplaces. These malicious hackers were then able to infiltrate networks by hijacking encrypted VPN tunnels.

Advanced Security Solutions Required

In this new environment, IT organizations are in a rush to ramp up to more advanced solutions. Leading cybersecurity providers are offering organizations Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) products. SASE is an architecture that converges networking and security—combining cloud-delivered security and SD-WAN—to provide employees with consistent and secure access to critical resources.

SASE – A Vital Tool

SASE has quickly become a vital tool in the arsenal of IT teams, but not all SASE solutions are the same. Application performance, access, and security can vary widely. Buyers should carefully contrast and compare competing SASE solutions before investing in one. Looking to capture a piece of the SASE market, many security vendors have popped up quickly with inferior solutions that fall short of their promised benefits.

Immature or inadequate SASE solutions often operate as isolated standalone solutions that don’t work with any other technologies across the organization. Also, they can only address a limited number of use cases. This often leads to dealing with multiple vendors and solution sprawl rather than reducing it—adding an additional management burden to already overtaxed IT teams.

Guidance for Evaluating SASE Solutions

Rather than jumping blindly on the SASE bandwagon, your organization should ponder the following seven considerations before purchasing:

  1. A Single-vendor SASE Approach

Well into the future, most organizations will continue to operate a hybrid network that combines a traditional infrastructure with a cloud-based system. The challenge is that vendor sprawl within these environments reduces visibility and control. Security and networking components that operate in siloes cannot be automated, and SASE solutions that don’t work with the rest of the network mean that IT teams cannot track and secure transactions end-to-end.

Rather than trying to build a multi-vendor SASE solution, with its attendant challenges for implementation and management, SASE should be a single-vendor solution that converges networking and security into a unified solution out of the box.

A SASE solution must also seamlessly hand off connections between the cloud and on-premises devices, allowing access and security policies to follow the user rather than terminating at the edge of the network. Only by converging networking and security end-to-end can organizations implement a comprehensive zero-trust architecture. Extending the unique approach of security-driven networking to the cloud edge ensures consistent security and superior user experience everywhere.

At the same time, you need the vendor that you partner with to have a broad technology ecosystem to ensure you are able to protect your existing investments as you embark on the journey of vendor consolidation and build a comprehensive SASE solution.

  1. Flexible, Secure Private Access to Corporate Applications

Organizations are rapidly evolving. They require a flexible SASE solution that can meet—and adapt to—their unique business environment. An adaptive SASE solution that can provide secure connectivity to corporate applications—whether in a private data center or the public cloud—is vital for meeting today’s dynamic organizational requirements. SASE should also offer secure access to corporate applications using ZTNA for granular control and seamlessly integrate with SD-WAN and NGFW solutions to ensure an optimal user experience when accessing corporate applications.

Powered by intelligent steering and dynamic routing capabilities through its cloud-based PoPs, a SASE solution should also automatically find and maintain the shortest path to critical resources to ensure a consistent user experience for an organization’s hybrid workforce.

  1. Unified Agent for Multiple Use Cases

Onboarding a different agent for each use case can quickly become complex and expensive to maintain. A SASE solution should provide a single agent that can be used for multiple use cases, including ZTNA, CASB, and endpoint protection—while automatically redirecting traffic to protect assets and applications through cloud-delivered security.

  1. User Access Controls

ZTNA has emerged as an essential tool for protecting distributed resources and hybrid workers. A Universal ZTNAsolution must authenticate users everywhere, grant explicit access to specific applications, provide constant monitoring, and take countermeasures when something unexpected occurs.

  1. Consistent Policy Enforcement and Superior User Experience

SASE technologies should be easily integrated into the organization’s larger network and security architecture rather than working as a one-off solution. Ideally, the security protocols and policies within the SASE solution should be identical to those used elsewhere in the network.

Also, systems managers should be able to integrate their SASE solution with existing technologies to optimize their security and network operations through seamless interoperability. And consistent network operations enable superior user experience for workers—whether on or off the network.

  1. AI-powered Threat Intelligence

Keeping users and applications safe requires keeping the security components of the SASE solution constantly tuned to the latest threats. However, the manual controls, scripts, and limited threat intelligence used by most SASE vendors cannot keep up with today’s rapidly evolving threat landscape, leaving organizations vulnerable. Therefore, in addition to enterprise-class security components, a SASE solution must also leverage AI-powered threat intelligence. To prevent sophisticated and evasive zero-day threats, this threat data should be collected using supervised and unsupervised learning models and trained on a large and diverse set of billions of cyber events.

  1. The Essential Use Cases Your SASE Solution Should Address

On the surface, it may seem like a SASE deployment is straightforward. Purchase a SASE solution, point your users at it, and forget about it. In fact, that’s what many SASE salespeople will tell you. But as anyone with any IT experience knows, nothing is ever as easy as it seems. For even the most straightforward solutions, the devil is often in the details.

There are five essential use cases that you need to be considered for your SASE solution: secure internet access, secure private access, secure SaaS access, cloud-based management, and simplified onboarding and flexible consumption.

If constructed properly, SASE will extend the same protection, performance, and experience to WFA employees that their colleagues enjoy when working from company on-site workplaces. To ensure you are making a wise decision regarding your organization’s new SASE solution, be sure to the above critical factors prior to purchasing.

Learn more about FortiSASE and Fortinet’s ability to deliver single-vendor SASE that enables consistent security and user experience no matter where users and applications are distributed.







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