Guest Column | November 19, 2020

How SASE Can Help With A Distributed Work Force

By John Nellen, Todyl

Service Workforce Integration

We live in a distributed world. For most of this decade, companies have moved their employees out of headquarter locations and to remote locations closer to their customers. And when COVID-19 hit, that shift accelerated. According to Catchpoint’s CIO New Normal Survey, businesses asked three-fourths of their employees to work from home during the pandemic. Gartner predicts this shift will remain long after COVID-19 is gone.

But it isn't just workers. Computing has shifted off-premises as well. Nearly all companies are now in the cloud (90 percent, according to 451 research). Most workloads (60 percent) run on cloud platforms. And nearly all companies have moved important applications to SaaS.

So, if most of your users and apps are off-premises, does it still make sense to deploy networks and security on-premises? Does it make sense to backhaul traffic from remote users back to the office, and then out to cloud platforms where the apps now reside? Wouldn’t it make more sense to deploy the network and security out where the users and apps reside?

It’s a question that companies are increasingly asking, and a new solution, identified by Gartner as Secure Access Service Edge, or SASE, has emerged as an alternative. In case you're wondering, that’s pronounced “Sassy.” 

SASE Is The New Normal

In a nutshell, SASE is a cloud-based set of networking and security components delivered “as-a-Service” to distributed users, resources (such as IoT devices), and cloud-based apps. The company controls all aspects of the network and security configuration from a central console, but—importantly—neither purchases, installs nor manages any infrastructure.

SASE comprises SD-WAN, Firewall-as-a-Service, Zero-Trust networking, Secure Web Gateways (SWG), Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB), and a whole host of other crucial networking and security services. Basically, it enables companies to provide secure connectivity and security to distributed users and offices.

Instead of needing to backhaul all traffic to on-premises networks and then to the cloud, users connect with their nearest POP and SASE takes care of the rest. It is faster, simpler, and less expensive. SASE’s benefits include:

  • Vastly simplified network topologies. Say goodbye to complex, multi-site networks with SD-WAN, firewalls, and so on. Say hello to a simple, single platform.
  • Simpler operations. You know that consultant you use to set up complex networks or security implementations? Yeah, say goodbye to them as well. Your existing staff can easily master SASE deployment and operations. Changes take place in a single platform, with a single pane of glass to see the company’s end to end security. This minimizes change management complexity and human error with disbursed hardware, not to mention the reduced configuration complexity that comes from a straightforward web-based management portal.
  • as-a-Service. SASE is software. Say goodbye to expensive CapEx investments and headaches when trying to scale. No need to replace hardware and no arbitrary scalability limitations.

Taking The Next Step

Is SASE right for you as a service provider? Is it right for your customers? The best advice is to assess to see how SASE would fit into your operations. Here’s what you should look at:

  • Do an inventory of all the hardware (and software) your customers currently use to implement networking and security. Note which of those would be eliminated if they switched to SASE.
  • Perform a financial assessment. Compare the heavy CapEx and operational cost of maintaining networking and security on-premises to the SaaS economics of SASE.
  • Identify tasks you could bring back in-house. Simplified management eliminates the need for hardware experts and outsourced contractors. Your team can do more with the experience they have. See which network and security deployment and operations tasks could be brought back in-house with SASE.
  • Study trouble tickets. Look to see how many of your trouble tickets currently stem from VPN issues, remote security issues, and the complexities encountered with backhauling traffic to complex on-premises networking and security infrastructure. How many trouble tickets would be eliminated by the simplicity and elegance of SASE?
  • Look at your customers’ security posture. Are your customers more or less secure when they are outside the perimeter? How do your controls compare in vs. out of the office? How about your observability? Could SASE help increase posture and strengthen controls?

It’s A SASE Future

Is SASE right for you and your customers? According to a recent Gartner report, SASE is the direction a lot of companies are headed. Gartner predicts 42 percent growth going forward, with sales reaching $11 billion by 2024.

Now maybe the perfect time to begin exploring how SASE fits into your future.

About The Author 

John Nellen is a technology, security, and business leader with a demonstrated history of over 15 years working in the internet industry. Currently Founder & CEO of Todyl, the market leader in Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) for MSP’s. Nellen was previously Head of Information Security & Technology at Next Jump, an HR technology company covering over 70 percent of the Fortune 1000. He was responsible for information security, various product engineering teams, and technical operations. Before Next Jump, Nellen was Co-Founder & CTO at TXT160, a flash deal company leveraging SMS to drive traffic to local businesses. Nellen also held engineering roles in both the internet and finance industries at Cisco Systems, Eaton Vance, and Batterymarch Wealth Management.