While asking your executives to invest in something called “sassy” can be admittingly awkward, the truth is that if you’re included in the 91% of IT leaders interested in SASE solutions, it won’t be long before you find yourself leading that discussion. The good news is the SASE justification conversation is not all that different from explaining the value of cloud computing, outsourced services, or virtual IT infrastructure to help take the burden off internal IT resources.
So, how can you make the SASE investment a no-brainer? This article examines the essential elements of building the business case, summarizing guidance from our interactive eBook, The Straight Talk Guide to SASE. Stay tuned! I am also working on an article to contextualize the components of SASE and how to apply them to your specific environment.
For some, the business case for SASE is self-evident. Employees are not accessing the network the way they used to, nor from the same locations. In order for companies to stay connected while also staying secure, a new solution like SASE is needed. However, “Don’t you see? It’s obvious!” is not a compelling way to justify a new solution. Rather, the discussion should concentrate on two areas:
Source: 2021 State of SD-WAN Study
Work has left the office – both the data and the employees – and SASE is essential for making this new reality actually work well for the business, particularly from network connectivity and security perspective. By definition, SASE solutions are converged offerings combining SD-WAN capabilities with network security functions, so any company taking on remote connectivity and security all at once will benefit from it.
The purpose of these solutions is to provide secure, efficient connections for workers, regardless of where they, or the data they are accessing, are located. With the help of SASE, including SD-WAN Work from Anywhere solutions, users can securely log in from pretty much anywhere on any device, accessing data anywhere, whether it be on-premise or in the cloud. SASE solutions are great hybrid work enablers.
Check out our infographic 5 Reasons to Consider SASE for Remote Work.
The connection between SASE and DX may seem intuitive, but if you want to build the business case, you will have to make the linkage explicit. It goes something like this: Senior leaders at your company may envision a competitive strategy based on digital services with customers and employees engaging in remote collaboration and touchless services from any location. SASE allows for the secure operationalization of this vision.
Without SASE, a cloud-based and digital-first strategy can easily increase risk exposure. In order for employees to engage securely with customers via cloud applications, there have to be secure connections, deep visibility, and an identity-based approach to data access. Digital services become an attack surface without a secure connection. SASE makes such functionality possible and secure on an economical basis. Consider that you can’t talk about cloud applications and services without talking about security and the network.
SASE should drive improvements in IT team productivity, e.g., making it simpler and faster for network and security analysts to monitor and manage everything from network resources and cloud application performance to security technologies, policies, and more. Because SASE brings all of this into the same comprehensive service, it’s more efficient to operate and manage.
There is also the potential to save money:
One promising aspect of SASE arises from its ability to be attached to a variety of existing IT initiatives. Indeed, some of the budget for SASE may already be allocated to its component parts—just as standalone investments under other areas such as:
For example, your company might already be undertaking a refresh of its WAN infrastructure. These provide an excellent vehicle for putting SASE into place. The message to financial managers might go something like, “We’re already committed to modernizing our corporate network, so adding a few other security capabilities will help reduce risk, create a total solution, while simplifying implementation and operations.”
Remote work initiatives also present an opportunity to align a SASE project with an existing focus area. SASE can also facilitate more effective digital-first and cloud-first business strategies. Similarly, visions for improving productivity and IT agility can mesh well with SASE, as do efforts to bolster business continuity. In the case of continuity, SASE helps satisfy the demands of consistent application performance everywhere. Plus, it protects corporate data wherever it is.
Hybrid work is here and SASE is the answer. Companies that are considering it must formulate a business case for the technology. This is not a difficult challenge, because of the breadth of business-facing advantages. These include better outcomes for hybrid work, along with more security and confidence in digital transformation and IT agility. From a business perspective, SASE can be seen as a key enabling factor for a differentiated digital strategy, as well as a driver of efficiencies across multiple areas of IT, security and the broader business continuity.
The term SASE was coined by the analyst firm Gartner to describe how several separate network and security technologies can converge to serve the needs of users who are increasingly remote, rather than at the office where they are protected by traditional corporate network and security systems. Specifically, SASE combines the Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) with the security functions of Firewall-as-a-Service (FwaaS), Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASBs), Secure Web Gateways (SWGs) and Zero Trust Network Architecture (ZTNA). Additional add-ons for SASE solutions may include endpoint security services, artificial intelligence or AIOps, security threat detection and response services or security operations services.
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