By John Atchison, Versa Networks
Gartner introduced Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) in 2019 as the perfect joining of security and networking services – a tight integration of multiple security and networking functions from a variety of vendors. While SASE addresses today’s challenges such as digital transformation and support for a Work-from-Anywhere workforce, it also can present its own set of complexities around deployment, management, and administration. As most organizations have constraints around time, staff, and budgets, incorporating all these security and networking capabilities efficiently and seamlessly on their own can be a daunting proposition.
When it comes to mission-critical projects, large IT departments are often called into research, design, build, and deploy advanced initiatives. But not every organization has a large IT team at its disposal, or the specialized staff and resources to tackle a SASE implementation project in a time- and cost-efficient manner. Many organizations require that solutions work right out of the box, and none can afford reduced network performance speeds and connectivity issues as they roll out new services into their environments.
The 3 Dimensions Of SASE
Before we get into the Managed Service Provider (MSP) role with SASE, it’s important to understand some of its key components. At a high level, SASE can be conceptualized into three dimensions – connectivity, security, and policy.
Connectivity to the service edge for SASE is just as critical as the connectivity within the service. To achieve optimal connectivity, Secure SD-WAN, the key functionality of SASE, has proven to be the best solution available that leverages application flow and traffic forwarding based on an enterprise’s policies. Secure SD-WAN enables organizations to achieve top optimal performance for a given application and a given set of actors (a user, laptop, container, cloud instance, etc.). For security, a complete set of security functions is preferably performed at the closest point of the resource and the user requiring access. An organization can determine the security function required and where it gets instantiated for a specific application flow. Finally, policy enforcement ensures that an asset is being accessed by a validated and authorized user.
These three dimensions of SASE are critical to ensuring that security and networking services are running efficiently and seamlessly.
MSPs Can Fully Manage The Implementation Of SASE
As an alternative to taking on the full rollout of SASE, organizations can benefit from partnering with an MSP, which can improve SASE deployment scalability when organizations are unable to implement SASE on their own. With an MSP, organizations may prefer a true a-la-carte method and pick networking and security vendors of their choice. MSPs also offer a fixed model and the best vendor options available as an all-in-one package.
Selecting the MSP route for deploying SASE has other advantages as well. These include decreased risks, streamlining of the entire process, and the opportunity to establish success. MSPs also have the processes and tools to integrate disparate services into a simple delivery model, including troubleshooting, help desks, provisioning, analytics, billing, and more. As a result, organizations do not need to create or reorganize these services into their networks on their own, reducing time spent and total costs.
In addition, MSPs can bring in entire teams of security experts, not just a few IT professionals. These teams are deeply knowledgeable and skilled about new technologies and operating networks at peak performance and efficiency, they understand compliance and regulatory issues, and they have repeatable processes to support all aspects of SASE implementation from start to finish. The best MSPs work closely with an organization’s IT department and ultimately serve as an extension of the internal team – lending support and advice all along the implementation journey. They lead collaboration with the organization to ensure the best solutions and policies are developed to achieve organizational goals.
Working with an MSP is an attractive route for many organizations. MSPs take on all the management and design of the SASE services, and they know which solutions deliver the best results. As adoption of SASE services continues to rapidly grow, and as many organizations consider outsourcing their SASE requirements to MSPs, this will help propel the emergence of the SASE Managed Service market.
Selecting Your SASE Implementation Path
Whether you take the DIY approach or you decide to outsource the implementation and delivery of SASE services to an MSP, it is key that you conduct due diligence. Have you clearly defined your objectives on what you want SASE to achieve for your business? Perhaps your goals include decreasing appliance sprawl, reducing CapEx, etc. Without careful consideration of the desired outcomes, you may be setting your organization up for disappointment.
If your organization is looking to take the SASE MSP route, here are a few things to consider:
Technology partnerships – An MSP can partner with a variety of vendors to create their SASE portfolio. But be sure that the solution being offered tightly integrates security, networking, and analytics, all within a single software operating system. MSPs that stitch together their SASE portfolios introduce complexity for their clients, which is contrary to the SASE principle of operational simplicity.
Room for growth – Will the SASE solution offered by the MSP allows your business to scale and grow with you? Perhaps today, you need only one SASE service, take SD-WAN for example. But tomorrow you may decide that you want Secure Web Gateway (SWG) to provide secure internet access to your enterprise sites, home offices, and on-the-go users. What then? Ensuring that the MSP of choice has the services available at the flick of a switch is peace of mind for your organization.
Do your homework – When people are looking to purchase a car, they look at make, model, model year, body style, and paint colors; but also reviews on crash safety, performance, etc. Finding an MSP is no different and you have to invest the time and do your research. Once you have identified prospective MSPs, meet with them. Find out about their areas of expertise, how long they have been in business, which verticals they serve, and what methodologies and processes they employ to deliver the SASE technology. Has the MSP partnered with a leading SASE vendor? Is the SASE vendor validated in the industry as a leader? Before you commit, get to know the MSP.
Having an MSP implement and manage your SASE requirements can improve time to deployment, reduce risk, streamline processes, and position your organization for success. And when looking through the financial lens, MSPs can help to move expenses from CapEx to OpEx, while also providing your organization with predictable costs and associated fee structures. The days of unexpected CapEx surprises are a thing of the past if you go the MSP route and choose your partner carefully.
About The Author
John Atchison is the Head of Global Channel Marketing at Versa Networks.