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Masergy, Aryaka Say SASE Demand Is Rising

Rising demand

Demand for secure access service edge (SASE) solutions continues to catch fire.

So say experts from Aryaka Networks, Masergy and Versa Networks. SASE, which combines connectivity/networking features of technologies like SD-WAN with next-generation security capabilities, had already established a foothold before the pandemic.

“Long before SASE was a thing, studies found that IT decision makers state security is their No. 1 SD-WAN buyer criteria,” said Ray Watson, Masergy’s vice president of innovation. “And now that SASE has been defined as a solution addressing the problems of secure remote access, interest has skyrocketed.”

Watson and peers from two other vendors will speak about SASE at the upcoming Channel Partners Conference & Expo. Their panel, “Get Sassy With SASE — Cloud Security Opportunities for Modernizing the Network,” takes place on Wednesday, Nov. 3.

Watson and Ginsburg, Aryaka vice president of product and solutions marketing, fielded questions from Channel Partners about SASE to preview their session. We have edited the transcript below for clarity.


Channel Partners: SASE is a very popular term that vendors and partners like to use. What technology criteria do these companies need to meet for their offerings to actually count as SASE?

David Ginsburg: We will be the first to admit that there is a lot of confusion and posturing in the industry, and many vendors have jumped on the term to show relevance, even if they don’t actually have a viable SASE offer. SASE is defined as network as a service and network security as a service.  Basically, connectivity and security are both critical, and a vendor solution that delivers one without the other is a hollow promise.  Though some vendors, especially those grounded in the security space, focus only on the security aspects of SASE, what employees ultimately require is peak application performance delivered securely. This requires a high-performance WAN with end-to-end performance SLAs. 

Ray Watson: By definition, Gartner describes SASE solutions as having all five of these capabilities in one platform and one service: SD-WAN, SWG, FWaaS, CASB and ZTNA. But this doesn’t mean you can deploy a SASE solution and get comprehensive security coverage. SASE isn’t comprehensive — it focuses mostly on network security. You still need to think about endpoint security, cloud security, and detection and response services that address SASE’s technologies as well as your entire IT environment.

Aryaka's David Ginsburg

CP: Is SASE deployment accelerating? And if so, why?

RW: Yes, for two reasons. First, because security has long been a focus for SD-WAN decision makers, and two, because of the pandemic. Long before SASE was a thing, studies found that IT decision makers state security is their No. 1 SD-WAN buyer criteria. And now that SASE has been defined as a solution addressing the problems of secure remote access, interest has skyrocketed. At Masergy, our secure SD-WAN sales are also a leading indicator of this trend.

In 2019 and 2020, 70% and 81% of IT leaders (respectively) said security was their top factor in the SD-WAN purchase decision. Additionally, 91% expressed an interest in services that converge SD-WAN and security.

Forty-six percent of IT professionals claimed the pandemic has accelerated their timeline for SD-WAN deployment and 58% said SD-WANs made the transition to working remotely easier. In FY21, Masergy’s secure SD-WAN/SASE bookings were up 110%.

DG: With the continued movement to the cloud, SASE is an ideal cloud-centric networking and security architecture, so we’d only expect adoption to accelerate.  It also aligns with the movement to managed services in general, in that SASE is a combination of network as a service and network security as a service. Since SASE services are delivered at the cloud edge, it aligns with the movement to the hybrid workplace, where employees access WAN services from both on-premises locations as well as at home or on-the-go. SASE functions are delivered via a services PoP architecture that brings together both sets of users with common security policy enforcement and observability.

Masergy's Ray Watson

CP: Does SASE differ from the networking and security technologies that preceded it in terms of customer conversations? By that I mean, who in these customer businesses are partners talking to about SASE? IT? The C-suite?

DG: One difference is that SASE, by virtue of bringing together network and security as part of a managed offer, creates an environment where the previously separate buying centers must cooperate on project planning and budgeting. This is all for the good in a world of increasing threats, WAN complexity and skills gaps. Though the analysts are projecting a few years for this to happen, we are already seeing strong growth the number of customer engagements with fused requirements. Depending upon the size of the enterprise, the dialogue may occur at different levels —IT management, C-suite, or otherwise. And, a given project may be led by either the networking team, with input from security, or vice versa. What is critical, however, is that the teams look at both as equally important. SASE is not just a security architecture, nor is it only networking. And as clarification, SD-WAN, the connectivity foundation, is a key element of SASE within the network-as-a-service stack. In fact, many place SD-WAN and SASE as equals to avoid neglecting one at the expense of the other.

RW: You can’t have a networking conversation without talking about security, and you can’t have a security conversation without talking about the network; thus, partners are increasingly talking to business leaders whose expertise crosses both IT domains — network and security. But they are also talking to more C-level executives — that’s because security and the network are now business problems. 

Fifty-eight percent of IT leaders reported that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the value of WANs. Sixty-four percent are investing more in network infrastructure now than they did before COVID-19. When asked to prioritize investments in their network infrastructure over the next 12 months, respondents give top priority to technology that can enable remote work and collaboration tools.

Ransomware is increasing by 150% year over year.

SD WAN, Masergy, Aryaka, SASE