What is SASE? About Cisco’s Secure Access Service Edge

by | Mar 11, 2021 | Technology Strategy

As cybercriminals become more sophisticated, businesses need alternative ways to identify, manage, and mitigate IT security threats across their entire organization. Switching back and forth between multiple systems to monitor, action, and then communicate security issues is costly and inefficient. It causes frustration for the technical teams responsible for managing them, impacting their performance and ability to do the job of protecting your business.

As we’ve seen throughout the coronavirus pandemic, business leaders now see many benefits in structuring their teams using a hybrid remote model. However, this structure can present new and complex security challenges for IT staff. Having to protect an organization’s security perimeter as it shifts and changes is proving difficult. Businesses require a way to mitigate risks from the edge inward, rather than the data center outward.

I asked David Bristow, one of ZAG’s Solutions Architects and SD-WAN expert, to explain this idea of “mitigating risk from the outside in” in a way that non-technical executives can understand.

“We no longer think about security in a directional context, but rather in terms of scope. We used to build a security bubble around the campuses and data centers; now we must expand this security bubble to include remote workers, cloud applications, and branch offices that are becoming more nebulous.

“So rather than there being a few bubbles to manage — for example a head office where employees go to work and maybe remote branches — now everyone and everything is in one bubble,” he said.

“Imagine one of those kids’ bubble machines at a birthday party; that’s what a modern, remote workforce looks like from a networking perspective. The challenge is how do you securely and reliably move information between those bubbles, while also protecting the bubbles themselves?”

David said that with more businesses moving more applications and services to the cloud, combined with more remote knowledge workers, IT leaders need to rethink how they architect networks and security in hybrid environments. That’s the challenge Cisco SASE solves.

Cisco’s solution to networking the modern workplace

Cisco’s solution to these challenges is its Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) platform. SASE is a unified networking solution providing network support and security from the data center out to the very edge of your network, wrapped up neatly into a cloud-based platform. A single pane of glass into your information technology (IT) security.

Cisco is a long-established market leader in communications and networking, and now they lead the way in advanced IT security. SASE offers businesses a way to effectively combine networking and IT security with their part-cloud SD-WAN, part-cloud security solution. The ease of connection, a flexible deployment model, and a well-designed user experience make SASE a cost-effective solution for any business that utilizes a remote workforce.

Smart integration from anywhere

With Cisco SASE, businesses can leverage Cisco SD-WAN’s networking capabilities with the multi-functional security capabilities of Cisco Umbrella. Combining secure web gateway (SWG), DNS security, firewall services, and cloud access security broker (CASB) into the cloud-based platform, Cisco Umbrella offers multi-tier security support across organizations without having to layer different tools to do so.

Employees are protected by SD-WAN and Cisco Umbrella platforms while on the local network. While on the road, the protection of Cisco Umbrella extends with the use of their roaming client. Data is protected from the edge inward through the roaming client, except that traffic doesn’t need to be sent to the data center to secure it. This model is a networking “game-changer” that offers enhanced speeds and substantial cost savings.

Flexible deployment model

One of the most attractive benefits of Cisco SASE is its flexibility. With SASE, customers only need to license what they use. The licensing model doesn’t require businesses to over-provision their environment with tools they don’t need.

The core of SASE is twofold: the networking capabilities of SD-WAN and the security functionality of Umbrella. But within that solution, businesses can customize the package they select, opting for the DNS Security Essentials package to the more robust Secure Internet Gateway (SIG) package.

Beyond the Umbrella platform, companies can integrate additional SaaS platforms and applications as needed, thanks to CLI templates and integrators. This framework allows businesses to leverage the benefits of SASE in conjunction with what they already have.

Better user experience for IT teams

IT staff have it hard enough these days, and the tools they use to manage their networks should make life easier without compromising functionality and security. SASE provides a way for IT teams to configure a more consistent environment from both a security and networking standpoint. Its simplified design reduces the need for disparate tools, enhancing staff effectiveness and reducing complexity.

How to leverage SASE in your business today

To take advantage of the SASE platform, it’s best to partner with a Cisco certified partner. Working with a vendor familiar with each application Cisco has to offer guarantees you’re getting a solution tailored to fit your specific needs, setting you up for success now and in the future.

ZAG is a longstanding Cisco partner with deep experience in their data center, networking, SD-WAN, security, and SASE platform. Our relationship allows us to tap into Cisco’s team of product engineers, training resources, and funding opportunities that you couldn’t access as a non-MSP.

Partnering with one of the leading network and security manufacturers also enables our team to become certified experts in Cisco’s specific solutions, working with their products day after day. Other benefits include access to vendor funding programs to reduce initial scoping expenses and even capital outlays.

Everyone at ZAG takes your success seriously. Our highly experienced team leverages over 200 defined information technology standards that we consult during every implementation. We take the time to listen to and evaluate your needs so that you’re getting a holistic solution that blends seamlessly with your environment.

Are you interested in learning more about our security solutions? Click here to arrange a complimentary consultation with one of our technology strategists, including potential access to Cisco’s funding programs.

Cisco “SASE for Dummies” Ebook

If you’d like to learn more about Secure Access Service Edge, Cisco wrote a “SASE for Dummies” ebook, which you can download here.

Discuss SASE With ZAG

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