Technical data

How to start developing a plan for implementing SASE

Secure Access Service Edge continues to garner significant attention. However, the reality of most enterprise implementations does not always match its technical definition.

SASE is the convergence of networking and security functionality into a unified, cloud-delivered platform, typically from a single vendor. However, most companies have made significant investments in a variety of tools and vendors, many of which are deployed on-premises.

Does that mean these organizations should immediately move to the cloud and align to a single vendor to get started with SASE? Of course not. But it shapes practitioners’ expectations of the initiative.

Specifically, Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) found the following in its SASE Trends report:

  • Nearly half (48%) of organizations will focus on the security side of SASE first, such as starting to move security controls to the cloud, converging multiple controls, or adding new security features .
  • Nearly a third (31%) will prioritize the network side of SASE to start, such as implementing or expanding SD-WAN usage, WAN optimization, experience management digital or other capabilities.

And regarding the use of SASE providers, the report revealed the following results:

  • 14% of organizations plan to use a single vendor for SASE after their project is complete;
  • 24% plan to use two providers; and
  • 57% expect to use three or more suppliers.

Finally, 27% of respondents said that hybrid options are a critical attribute of a SASE platform to connect on-premises and cloud products to ease the transition to a fully cloud-delivered SASE over time.

These views may change as vendors prove their ability to provide a wide range of effective services and as users become more comfortable with SASE. Yet the data shows the mindset with which network and security professionals embark on projects today.

How to get started with SASE

With that in mind, use the following steps to plan SASE adoption and develop a realistic project roadmap.

1. Prioritize business issues to address

Is the focus on improving support for remote and hybrid working? Augmenting a zero trust initiative? Modernize secure access to applications? Optimize global connectivity and simplify office provisioning? By understanding the organization’s most pressing needs, IT teams can decide whether a security, network, or fully converged path makes the most sense. Then they can start building the technical requirements for their SASE project.

2. Identify other initiatives on the horizon

SASE does not operate in silos. It is increasingly linked to zero trust to operationalize the strategy. Securing IoT deployments is also increasingly associated with SASE. Understanding what kinds of broader IT or security projects are underway or under consideration can inform SASE planning and ensure that technical requirements are not short term.

This exercise requires cross-functional collaboration, which is also critical to the success of SASE. Collaborate with stakeholders from other parts of the IT organization and lines of business to improve overall alignment and contribute to strategy.

3. Assess the tools currently deployed and diagnose the most critical gaps

Many parts of SASE are redundant with tools companies already have in place. Secure Web Gateways (SWGs) and cloud access security brokers are established and widely adopted technologies. The complexity of migrating existing policies to a new cloud-delivered tool can lead organizations to conclude that a SASE project should initially focus on adding missing functionality. This can include Trustless Network Access (ZTNA), which is a common starting point for SASE projects, or remote browser isolation to prevent unknown threats and protect high-risk users.

4. Select Key Attributes Essential for Short- and Long-Term Success

The attributes that support the initial use cases of SASE are the most critical. It is also important to keep a longer term view. For SWG, hybrid options may be important for on-premises and cloud deployments initially, but the initiative will grow over time and move more to the cloud. Similarly, an organization’s ZTNA needs may require an agent-based approach to start, but expect an agentless plan for third-party use cases over time. Overall, the focus should be on flexibility.

5. Assess Suppliers

Once the previous steps are complete, vendor assessments can begin. Look for vendors who can help you now and in the future. Few, if any, vendors currently offer a full SASE platform. Focus on vendors who act as trusted advisors and help you understand how they approach SASE, as well as what they do and don’t provide. This makes the process easier and leads to a better relationship and better results.

Overall, implementing a SASE architecture can help increase operational efficiency, create a more consistent UX, and improve security. But this requires planning. These steps should be seen as a starting point and can help any organization begin to develop a roadmap to combat SASE.

ESG is a division of TechTarget.