Since its premier over a decade ago, SD-WAN was adopted by enterprises as the go-to-technology for preparing their network for the digital transformation. At the time this made sense, as SD-WAN brought important advantages:
- Optimized bandwidth costs, by leveraging inexpensive services like Internet broadband whenever possible.
- Improved cloud and Internet performance, by sending traffic directly to the Internet and not via distant datacenters.
- Reduced overhead and complexity, by enabling centralized management and agile orchestration.
Indeed, SD-WAN presents an affordable solution for site-to-site connectivity and is the initial building block of WAN transformation. Nevertheless, a full digital transformation involves much more than branch connectivity. The modern digital business needs optimized access to cloud resources, reliable global connectivity, security for all enterprise edges, and particularly today – support for the mobile/remote workforce.
What COVID-19 Taught us About Work-from-Home Transition
COVID-19 has expedited the need to shift to a WFH (or work-from-anywhere) model. Transforming the network to enable secure remote access to all users, at all locations, is crucial for guaranteeing business continuity in today’s reality, and has become a top priority for IT teams worldwide.
To successfully address the sudden demand for remote access caused by the pandemic, IT needs to instantly support all employees, at the same time, without affecting user experience and enterprise security posture. This huge WFH challenge is dependent on these three criteria: global scalability, performance optimization, and converged security.
Is SD-WAN the Answer to the WFH Challenge?
Trying to solve remote access scalability with SD-WAN requires installing an SD-WAN device at each remote user’s home/office, which is inefficient, complicated, and all but scalable. And without a global private backbone, even the SD-WAN device is dependent on the performance of the public Internet, which is unpredictable, especially over global distances. Finally, allowing remote users to access the Internet without security measures increases the chance for breaches and malicious attacks.
It’s no wonder that ever since the COVID-19 outbreak, we’re hearing from more and more IT leaders that their SD-WAN can’t address their most pressing need – provide a secure and optimized WFH environment. Enterprises have come to realize that as a point solution, at the branch level, SD-WAN has only partially prepared their network for the digital transformation.
What can IT do now? Add more point products to support WFH? If you’re asking us, the answer is clearly no. More appliances and point solutions entail the cost and hassle of procurement, sizing, maintenance, and upgrades.
So, what yes? Move to SASE. Global scalability, optimized performance, and converged security, all together, can be found in Gartner’s new industry category Secure Access Service Edge (SASE). A true SASE platform converges SD-WAN and network security into a single, global cloud service; delivering on top of that, SWG, CASB, NGFW and software-defined perimeter (SDP)/zero trust network access (ZTNA).
What it Takes to Really Support Remote Users
If we were to boil down the topic to a key takeaway, this is it: A viable remote access solution must be a software-only, cloud-native solution. Let’s revisit the WFH criteria and apply them to SASE:
- Global scalability – SASE’s cloud-native and globally distributed architecture supports optimized and secure access for an unlimited number of users, on any device, from any location, and without requiring additional infrastructure.
- Performance optimization – A SASE platform includes a private backbone and built-in WAN optimization, avoiding the unpredictable Internet when connecting remote users to applications. This ensures that application performance from remote is the same as from the office.
- Converged security – A SASE service provides a natively integrated, complete network security stack. All traffic passes through the SASE network, applying multi-factor authentication, continuous threat prevention, and granular application access policies for applications, both
on-premises and in the cloud.
SASE – All you Need to Transform your Network
In its newly released Hype Cycle for Enterprise Networking, 2020, Gartner acknowledges that COVID-19 has “highlighted the need for business continuity plans that include flexible, anywhere, anytime, secure remote access, at scale.” Gartner advises to prioritize SASE use cases that drive measurable business value, such as the mobile and remote workforce.
SASE is what you need to successfully transform your network and provide enterprise-wide remote access. SASE offers a cloud-native, agile architecture with converged network and security that is globally distributed and supports all resources.
This is what turns SASE into the ultimate answer to the WFH challenge. With SASE you’ll be able to fully transform your business, deliver a secure, productive, work-from-anywhere environment, and support your enterprise with a network built for today and ready for the future.
Elana Marom is a full stack marketer with over 20 years of experience in both startups and enterprises. As Director of Product Marketing at Cato Networks, Elana is passionate about raising awareness for SASE and helping customers leverage its value to prepare their business for whatever is next.