SASE: How to turn the promise into reality

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Deployed well, SASE can transform network security, making it more effective, economical and easy to manage.

At Telstra, we are seeing that businesses already using SD-WAN are looking at SASE as the right move to address their security concerns, while those with MPLS are realising that they’ll eventually look to factor SASE into their SD-WAN strategy.

With market trends indicating a wide adoption rate of SASE, the real question is how a business can turn the benefits of SASE into an effective solution.

Cover all your bases from the start

When thinking about SASE, Telstra believes that the key point to remember is this: SASE is a framework - just like ITIL. It’s not a technology box you simply bolt on.

Like ITIL, SASE has many parts. All of those parts need to work in unison to reduce risk and get maximum value from your solution.

That’s not to say you must have a complete SASE solution from day one. In fact, you can start with the basics and build incrementally over time. What’s critical is that you have a blueprint that covers all the elements you’ll need and the right assistance to get you there.

The true power of SASE lies in its flexibility and simplicity in controlling a dynamic environment. But that’s only possible if you build a solution where everything fits together seamlessly.

Without a blueprint, you’ll be adding or changing elements ad-hoc as needs arise. That’s going to reduce visibility, add complexity, and increase expense. In other words, you’ll be recreating your original situation.

Be very selective with potential SASE partners

Unless you’re a large enterprise, you may not necessarily have the skills to design and deploy SASE yourself. You’ll need to buy a solution from a vendor, and that could be tricky.

SASE is equal parts networking and security. However, Telstra’s view is that many SASE vendors are strong in one but not the other, since these functions have traditionally been separate.

Specialty vendors tend to be proficient in their solution set, but may lack the capabilities of other product domains which Telstra believes are essential in mapping out your solution set for SASE

Telstra also sees some vendors tend to push the technology they sell and may not focus on the business outcome you want. As the saying goes: when all you’ve got is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

In addition, their focus can be too narrow. They may not necessarily understand the wider environment spanning everything your business connects to.

The same situation applies to integrators who may be locked into one or two vendors. What’s more, integrators may not understand all the network implications. Often, they believe that networks are simply about price.

Telstra believes that this can be a common error. Ultimately, your SASE (or SD-WAN) solution will depend on the underlying networks. And just as important, the quality of interconnection between those networks, the cloud and your business assets. If you’re investing in SASE, cutting corners on the network won’t deliver the best return.

Some vendors have good credentials in both SD-WAN and security combined. But again, you could be locked into the technologies they sell which may not necessarily be the best fit for you.

It’s also important to remember that SASE is an emerging framework. So, these vendors may still be developing integrations for the mix of technologies they sell. And whatever SASE technologies you choose, you may still need to perform some of the integrations yourself.

Look at the bigger picture

If you’re deploying SD-WAN for the first time, think about how SASE will fit in the future. Make sure your SD-WAN solution is compatible with SASE, otherwise you may have to redo your SD-WAN solution with the business disruption that entails.

If you’re going for SASE, make sure you have a SASE-native architecture, not SD-WAN with SASE bolted on as an afterthought. SASE isn’t about combining multiple point solutions; it’s about delivering a unified cloud service for networking and security. That’s very different from simply running SASE appliances in the cloud.

However, this is just the start. The truth is, while creating a SASE design is easy, delivering a good outcome is hard. You should consider not just networks and security, but also cloud access, zero trust, applications, and all the critical integrations between these elements.

If you want to reduce risk, it’s best to choose a partner who has a proven record of success across all of these elements.

At Telstra for example, we offer design and deployment experience across more than 7000 SD-WAN solutions globally. Our networks have SD-WAN and zero trust capabilities built in. We also have one of the first SASE aligned network solutions in Australia with Adapt S1, which is ideal for our existing MPLS and SD-WAN customers.

Above all, Telstra offers choice. Because we’re vendor-agnostic, we can help you select the SD-WAN vendor, security vendor, network vendor, and cloud connectivity vendor that we believe will best suit your needs. So you can be confident that the all-important integrations are the right fit for you.

Business success is often dependent on network infrastructure and it’s important to periodically check your network performance. Let our solutions consultant help you better understand your business technology preparedness and kick start your network transformation journey. 

Click here to sign up for a no cost, no-obligation 60-minute network consultation with one of our network experts, where you will receive a personalised summary of findings compiled into an Assessment Report tailored exclusively for your organisation and get guidance for next steps to improve end-user experience across the network environment for current and future states.