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The adoption of edge computing and cloud infrastructure over the past decade combined with the recent surge in remote work, have seriously challenged traditional network architectures and security models. Large enterprises have been better able to adapt to this new reality, having access to larger IT budgets and skilled employees, but small and medium-sized businesses are struggling to keep up with the access control, monitoring and threat detection technologies needed to defend their local and remote assets.

In response to this trend, security vendors, as well as cloud and networking vendors, have been launching new software-defined and cloud-delivered solutions that combine network-as-a-service with network-security-as-a-service functionality. The goal of this new concept, which Gartner has dubbed secure access service edge (SASE), is to allow companies to easily provide secure access to any of their applications, whether hosted in the cloud or locally, for any user, from any device, and from any location without relying on locally deployed security appliances through which traffic would need to be routed and inspected.

According to a recent Gartner report, interest in this new model of network security, which is built around the principles of zero-trust networking, has exploded over the past year. By 2024 the analyst firm expects that 30% of enterprises will adopt cloud-delivered secure web gateway (SWG), cloud access security broker (CASB), zero trust network access (ZTNA) and branch office firewall as a service (FWaaS) capabilities from the same vendor. By 2025, over 60% of enterprises will have explicit strategies and timelines for SASE adoption encompassing user, branch, and edge access.

SASE adoption drivers and challenges

An important driver for the adoption of cloud-based network security services is the reduced management complexity and cost savings because IT teams will no longer have to manage different hardware boxes from different vendors to get different security capabilities. The SASE offering of one vendor is supposed to handle multiple security functions and will be managed from the same console.

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