Think big picture: Resolving network and security challenges with SASE

Summary: To solve for future networking demands, organizations must start addressing network and security as one. The answer can be found through SASE via the fusion of dynamic, intelligent network capabilities of SD-WAN with advanced security functions.

Two shifts—the cloud and mobility—are forcing us to rethink how we connect and secure our offices, users and resources. Enterprises are evolving to rely less on private data centers to run on-premises systems in favor of utilizing more Software as a Service (SaaS) applications and shifting data and workloads in the cloud. At the same time, the remote and mobile workforce has never been more mainstream. As a result, businesses are left juggling the needs of these remote employees, while leveraging legacy networks to provide secure access to confidential data.

woman in office using tablet

If you read my last blog post on Secure Access Service Edge (SASE), you’ll have background into this emerging new technology that addresses these expectations to your business. Let’s go a level deeper to explore how SASE fits into the larger picture when trying to achieve agile, cloud-based security.

Finding solid ground

When a shiny new technology comes into play, it’s easy to feed into the excitement of using it to master our networking and security needs of tomorrow. We’ve seen this in recent years as IT leaders focus on moving away from Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) to a Software Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN). And that is for good reason—the improved resiliency, higher performance and cost savings of replacing MPLS circuits with SD-WAN and Internet access are hard to ignore. Yet what might be easier to ignore, or downplay, are the other factors like security policies and controls that should be incorporated into a company’s network architecture. Overlooking security when moving from centralized to decentralized architectures can lead to additional expenses and security risks later on. That’s where SASE comes in.

The industry’s acceptance and adoption of SASE as a means for security-infused network architecture demonstrates the need for “anytime, anywhere” solutions that can deliver secure remote access at scale. We’re watching organizations address these challenges through the combination of dynamic, intelligent network capabilities of SD-WAN with advanced security functions. This lays the foundation for a SASE transformation that can achieve comprehensive protection and necessary compliance for migrations to cloud ecosystems.

Because SASE was built upon SD-WAN, users are provided with an efficient and high-performing connection to cloud-based applications. With its ability to chain in various cloud-hosted services, SD-WAN can be used to deliver dynamic, user-centric SASE security services.

SASE and SD-WAN are both networking technologies designed to connect disparate endpoints to a source of data and application resources. SASE extends the edge of the private network from end users to cloud service providers and their ubiquitous SaaS applications. It provides persistent connectivity and security wherever an organization’s users and resources are, anywhere in the world.

SASE also creates a unified administrative portal that offers complete visibility and control to simplify the management of network and security policies from a centralized single pane of glass.

SASE is set to explode in growth, with Gartner forecasting that 40% of enterprises will have SASE adoption strategies in place by 2024.1 We also expect the global SD-WAN market size to reach $43 billion by 2030,2 having seen tremendous growth from $1.4 billion in 2019, in order to satiate the need for more bandwidth, increased resiliency and performance and lower costs. Together, the two will prove to be unstoppable.

Stronger when united

Transcending to a SASE architecture that is built upon SD-WAN technology opens up essential security capabilities such as firewall and cloud access control to run in the cloud as Network Security as a Service, similar to a SaaS cloud service. With Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA), they grant trusted access based on the identity of the user—or application, or other entity—instead of their location or IP address as is done by legacy systems.

Business is dynamic and anticipating tomorrow’s networking needs is challenging. Failure to consider those eventualities today might leave you exposed in the future. SASE is designed to address one set of challenges—there are others, which is why it’s crucial to think big picture. For organizations working to address network and security together, the answer can be found via the right platform for the fusion of security and networking within this emerging SASE architecture.

To help you continue your education around SASE, read our whitepaper created in partnership with VMware to learn more about what SASE can do for your business.


  1. Gartner, “Forecast Analysis: Gartner’s Initial Secure Access Service Edge Forecast.” Joe Skorupa and Nate Smith. August 26, 2020.
  2. Research and Markets, “SD-WAN Market Research Report: By Offering, Deployment, Use Case, Industry—Global Industry Analysis and Growth Forecast to 2030.” August 2020.
Key takeaway: Organizations are turning to SASE to attain full security and necessary compliance for migrations to cloud ecosystems.


About the Author

Mike Frane

Mike is responsible for the company’s overall SD-WAN strategy, as well as the network and security service portfolios. Since joining WE in 2008, he’s overseen the launch of MPLS IPsec access elements, Secure WiFi & Analytics, Unified Communications and more.

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