SASE could bolster security for remote workers

Surge in telework drives interest in secure access service edge (SASE), which combines SD-WAN capabilities with network security services.

access control / authentication / privileges / security / key
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The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated some companies' plans to adopt secure access service edge (SASE).

Last summer, Gartner estimated SASE adoption at less than 1% of enterprises and said it would take five to 10 years before the technology reaches mainstream. But today, SASE is one of the main topics of client interest, according to Gartner analyst John Wheeler.

Gartner coined the term SASE, pronounced "sassy," to describe a technology category that converges network and security services, including SD-WAN, secure web gateway (SWG), cloud access security broker (CASB), DNS protection, and cloud-based firewall. COVID-19 has boosted interest in SASE as enterprises scramble to support a suddenly remote workforce. The surge in telework has taxed legacy network architectures that depend on traffic being routed through the enterprise data center for inspection. With SASE, access decisions are based on user identity and enforced at the endpoint, while policies are centrally defined and managed in the cloud. (Read more about how SASE works here)

"Companies that were on the fence about whether to upgrade to SASE, they're falling over to the 'adopt now' side," says Zeus Kerravala, founder and principal analyst at ZK Research. "If I'm trying to move to a modernized application infrastructure, why am I still using a network architecture designed for client-server from 30 years ago? A lot of my apps are now in the cloud, I've got people working from everywhere. This transition would have happened with or without the pandemic, but the pandemic has accelerated it."

While it's too early to tell if adoption spikes will continue after the pandemic abates, individual SASE vendors are reporting dramatic changes so far. Versa Networks, for example, saw remote user traffic increase by 800% to 900% since the pandemic hit. "Around March 22 is when we began to see these stats appear at this level," says Mike Wood, Versa Networks' CMO.

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