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Enterprises are constantly seeking innovative solutions to meet their growing network and security needs while driving operational agility. Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) is one such solution that has been gaining popularity. However, a common misconception has started to emerge: the idea that a single vendor can deliver a comprehensive SASE solution. This article will debunk that myth and shed light on why outcome-based services from Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs) are often the better choice.
The SASE solution stack comprises a blend of conceptual IT management principles and tangible technologies, coming together to create a comprehensive and secure environment.
Here’s a breakdown:
Together, these conceptual tenets and technologies create a unified SASE framework that ties together network infrastructure and security services. This integration results in improved user experience, heightened security, and enhanced operational efficiency.
In simple terms, SASE is a comprehensive model that integrates network security and wide area networking (WAN) capabilities with cloud-based orchestration. However, SASE is more than just SD-WAN coupled in parallel with security tools. While SD-WAN focuses on connecting diverse networks, and standalone security services aim to protect specific systems, functions, or endpoints, SASE merges these functionalities, providing seamless and secure network access regardless of user location.
While integrating SD-WAN into a security solution might seem like a straightforward way to combine network management and security, it’s crucial not to treat these as two separate functions. It’s vital that your SD-WAN solution governance is seamlessly integrated with security in a unified policy framework; this integration is more important than technological or platform integration a single vendor solution seeks to achieve.
Without this governance integration, there is a risk of creating an environment where the network and security components operate in silos. This will lead to inconsistent policy enforcement, gaps in security, and complexities in management. The key is to ensure that SD-WAN and security elements within SASE are inherently interwoven enabling coherent policies and streamlined management, thus truly unlocking the potential of SASE as a consolidated networking and security platform.
While SASE provides a technology framework to support the secure transmission of data and secure access to applications and resources, it should not be viewed as a replacement for established security frameworks such as NIST, CIS, or ISO27001. These frameworks provide comprehensive guidelines on how to secure information and establish strong cybersecurity controls. They cover a range of elements, from risk assessment and identity management to incident response and recovery procedures.
SASE complements these security frameworks by providing the technological means to implement their principles. For instance, the Zero Trust principle of SASE aligns with the access control and identity verification requirements emphasized in these security frameworks. The cloud-native and globally distributed architecture of SASE also resonates with these frameworks’ emphasis on resilience and recovery.
Moreover, SASE can aid in regulatory compliance for industries bound by strict regulations and where maintaining data security and privacy is paramount, such as healthcare (under HIPAA) or finance (under GDPR). Here, the unified visibility and control offered by the SASE technology framework is critical.
The allure of single vendor solutions is understandable. They promise simplicity, integration, and a single point of contact for support. However, in practice, finding a single vendor that excels in all the areas encompassed by SASE can be a daunting, if not impossible, task, and that’s before layering in the unique requirements of your business.
Network solutions and security are complex fields, each comprising multiple sub-disciplines. It’s rare to find a single vendor with top-tier expertise in all these areas. Besides, sticking with a single vendor can lead to vendor lock-in, reducing flexibility and potentially leading to higher costs in the long run.
This is where MSPs and MSSPs come into the picture. They provide businesses with access to a pool of experts in various fields, offering customized solutions based on each company’s unique needs. MSPs and MSSPs monitor, manage, and secure your network infrastructure, providing outcome-based services that ensure your IT operations are effective and efficient. They can leverage best-in-class vendors for each part of the SASE tech stack but reduce the friction that can be caused by having multiple solutions.
Secondly, staffing your own company with experts is often a Herculean task. According to (ISC)2, at the end of 2022, there was a global cybersecurity worker gap of 3.4 million skilled individuals. This is a staggering figure that highlights the critical shortage of cybersecurity professionals. Moreover, when it comes to hiring highly qualified cybersecurity experts, the cost can be prohibitive for many businesses. Entry-level analysts can easily cost upwards of $100k with benefits, while seasoned leaders and architects can be $250k+.
By partnering with an MSSP, businesses can gain access to a team of seasoned cybersecurity experts at a fraction of the cost of hiring in-house. This not only alleviates the pressure of finding and retaining top talent but also ensures that your security posture is continuously updated and fortified by professionals who live and breathe cybersecurity. Choosing MSPs and MSSPs over a DIY solution allows IT teams to focus on their core competencies and aligning strategic initiatives to the needs of the business, while leaving their management of network and security needs in the hands of trusted experts. This approach drives enhanced security, access to the latest technology, cost savings, and most importantly, peace of mind through risk abatement.
As your business prepares to adopt a SASE solution stack, there are four critical steps to kickstart your evaluation process:
As you undertake this evaluation process, here are key questions to consider:
Additionally, quantitative data plays a crucial role in your SASE evaluation, allowing you to assess your needs and evaluate potential solutions more accurately. Here are some key data points you should gather:
These steps, questions, and datapoints will guide your preliminary evaluation process, setting the stage for a deeper dive into potential solutions and vendors. Remember, adopting a SASE solution is a strategic decision that should align with your overall business strategy and IT roadmap.
In the complex world of network and security transformation, the guidance of a seasoned advisory partner is an invaluable asset. These companies bring a wealth of industry knowledge and experience, guiding you through the process of SASE solution evaluation with expert advice and personalized service.
Advisory firms, like Bluewave, specialize in understanding your unique business needs, current infrastructure, and future goals. They evaluate potential vendors on your behalf, considering factors such as scalability, reliability, support, and cost-effectiveness. This allows you to navigate the numerous SASE solutions available, saving you time and resources while ensuring that the chosen solution fits your business like a glove.
Moreover, these firms continue to provide support and advice after the implementation, helping you realize value from your investment. With their guidance, your business can smoothly transition to a SASE framework, enhancing your network performance and security, and ultimately driving your business growth without putting undue strain or stress on your IT team. Leveraging an advisory company’s expertise is not just a wise choice—it’s a strategic move towards a successful transformation.
Achieving a successful SASE implementation goes beyond the single vendor solution myth. It requires the collective efforts of specialized vendors brought together by MSPs and MSSPs to create a tailor-made, outcome-based solution. Businesses must adapt and make strategic decisions that align with their specific needs.
As a premier advisory firm, Bluewave guides businesses through this process, providing expert advice and services to ensure your company achieves the desired outcome and expected value from your technology investments, including SASE.
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