What is the Impact of SSE/SASE on IT Operations and Management Practices?

The 2010s saw a major push towards cloud adoption as businesses of all types began the process of transitioning from utilizing expensive hardware-based computing resources located in on-premises data centers to hosting many or all of their applications, data, and file stores with hyper-scaling cloud providers like AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform.  This transition from on-prem to cloud for compute improved cost efficiency, enhanced scalability, streamlined implementation, and more.  The 2020s are going to see a similar push, but this time the transition will happen with network infrastructure, circuits, access, and connectivity, with many of the same benefits applying.

Gone are the days that the average business can expect all of its employees to work en masse at physical sites behind hardware security devices.  With the general move towards hybrid, roaming, or fully remote workforces, business have seen a marked uptick in VPN adoption, but VPNs aren’t optimized to support a distributed workforce in the modern era.  SaaS applications require web access, centralized web access means expensive circuit bandwidth, hub-and-spoke architectures increase latency and failure rate causing a decline in user experience and efficiency, and running significant portions of your business through VPN termination points either increases the chance of single points of failure forming or requires heavy costs to support redundancy.  These expenses and tradeoffs may have made sense when corporate users all gathered at a small number of physical sites but, once a workforce goes beyond the office, the need for a more adaptable option becomes apparent quickly.

Secure Service Edge (SSE), and the wider Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) security architecture model, transform and modernize the way that businesses ensure seamless, secure, and consistent access for their entire user base to applications, to company resources, and to the internet at large.  Distributed cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS) architecture reduces failure rate, simplifies policy management, improves user experience, and more.  Let’s dive into a few of the ways that SSE/SASE adoption improves IT operations.

 

#1 Streamlining Network Architecture:

Traditionally, businesses have employed a complex array of hardware-based security solutions, resulting in a convoluted network architecture. SSE and SASE, however, introduce a paradigm shift by consolidating networking and security functions into a unified framework. By integrating security directly into the network fabric via Secure Web Gateways (SWGs), Firewall as a Service (FWaaS), and on-endpoint agents for filtering and encryption, businesses can eliminate the need for multiple standalone networking and security appliances, thus simplifying their infrastructure. This streamlined approach reduces complexity, enhances operational efficiency, and reduces gross failure rate via distributed redundancy.

 

#2 Providing Enhanced, Integrated Security:

SSE and SASE converge networking and security, providing organizations with comprehensive and scalable protection. By implementing security measures closer to end-users, businesses can mitigate potential threats more effectively. These solutions incorporate advanced technologies like Zero-Trust Network Access (ZTNA), Data Loss Prevention (DLP), and Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASBs) to enforce stringent security policies. As a result, IT operations become more resilient against cyberattacks, ensuring data Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability, regardless of where users operate.

 

#3 Facilitating A Distributed Or Remote Workforce:

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the shift towards remote work, and businesses now require secure and reliable connectivity solutions for their distributed workforce. SSE and SASE offer an ideal framework for enabling seamless remote access, facilitating secure connectivity by establishing consistent security policies, regardless of the user’s location or device. With built-in identity and access management capabilities, businesses can authenticate and authorize remote users, granting them secure access to corporate resources. This not only enhances productivity but also safeguards sensitive data against unauthorized access.

 

#4 Cloud Adoption and Scalability:

As organizations increasingly embrace cloud computing, managing and securing cloud-based applications and data becomes crucial. SSE and SASE are designed to seamlessly integrate with cloud environments, allowing businesses to extend their security posture beyond the traditional network perimeter. These solutions provide real-time visibility, control, and threat protection across on-premises infrastructure, public clouds, and SaaS applications. By leveraging cloud-native architectures, SSE and SASE enable businesses to scale their IT operations dynamically, adapting to changing business needs without compromising security.

 

#5 Simplified Compliance and Governance:

In today’s regulatory landscape, organizations must adhere to a multitude of compliance requirements to protect sensitive data. SSE and SASE simplify compliance efforts by providing centralized security management and policy enforcement. With a unified platform, businesses can define and enforce consistent security policies across the entire network, ensuring compliance with industry regulations. Additionally, these solutions offer advanced analytics and reporting capabilities, enabling businesses to easily and regularly generate comprehensive audit logs to demonstrate compliance to auditors and regulatory bodies.

 

#6 Improved User Experience:

User experience (UX) is a critical factor in driving productivity and user adoption. SSE and SASE prioritize user-centric design principles, aiming to provide a seamless, consistent, and secure experience for employees, partners, and customers, regardless of whether they are remote, on-prem, or a mix of the two. By reducing latency and optimizing network performance, these solutions enable faster access to applications and data, regardless of the user’s location. With improved performance and reliability, businesses can enhance user satisfaction, leading to increased productivity and better customer engagement.

 

#7 Improving Cost Efficiency:

Much like the transition to cloud computing for servers and applications reduced costs by utilizing shared but segmented back-end cloud resources in lieu of physical server infrastructure, SSE and SASE replace expensive centralized circuits and network devices with endpoint agent and SaaS based secure connectivity over whatever type of internet connection happens to be available.  These cost reductions come along with a transition from a traditional Capital Expenditure (CapEx) model, buying equipment and connectivity up front, to an Operational Expenditure model, which is more closely tracked to utilization and need.  The move from a CapEx to an OpEx cost paradigm for infrastructure also facilitates the integration of other As A Service operational elements, such as Configuration Management and Security Monitoring, further reducing business reliance on strained IT resources for day to day administration, allowing for better focus on innovation and business outcomes.

In conclusion, there are a litany of reasons that adoption of an SSE or SASE framework can revolutionize your business’s IT operations and management processes, all of which will contribute to a continued sweeping rise in adoption over the remainder of the decade and beyond.  With the continued shift towards distributed and remote work, the expanding rate of cyber-attacks, and the inherent cost benefits of shifting, there’s no better time to start thinking about what a transition for your business would look like than today.

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