When moving critical business operations to the cloud, the two most important considerations are security and accessibility. Facilitating both with the same service can save enormous time, labor, and costs. Combining SD-WAN’s cloud networking capabilities with SASE’s enhanced security, usability, and system-management features enables business owners to create a robust enterprise-grade IT system.
Transforming critical business infrastructure into a polished and reliable suite of cloud networking tools can now be done without sacrificing security or ease of use. This is a significant benefit to remote workforces and IT administrators — two-thirds of whom feel overwhelmed trying to manage remote work. A custom-built SD-WAN and SASE networking solution simultaneously ensures your cloud edge is easily accessible by employees while keeping out cyber criminals.
This custom solution is achieved by managing all cloud networking, security, and accessibility functions from a single feature-rich and intuitive control panel. With SASE-enhanced SD-WAN, business owners now have a robust cloud infrastructure controlled by a single admin panel.
How SD-WAN and SASE Overlap
Rather than consider the two as competing alternatives, it’s essential to understand that SD-WAN is a foundational component of SASE and necessary for its function. They’re also not two variations of cloud networks — instead, SASE is a model, or architecture, for enhancing cloud network functions.
The network is the SD-WAN, which routes and segments traffic without needing on-premise servers. It also provides a basic zone-based firewall and other rudimentary network features, which organizations can enhance with complimentary SASE architecture. If optimized with a security services suite, SD-WAN can provide network and application visibility, intrusion detection and prevention, and network optimization.
Unique Traffic Controls
For SD-WAN to replace on-premise servers, it must immediately identify applications requesting access to the network to route data to the correct destination. A process called adaptive internet breakout categorizes traffic and determines where it should go according to security and quality of service policies the system admin sets.
Administrators can set and modify these policies to identify, categorize, and send access requests with optimal efficiency and security according to the organization’s needs. The following examples are the most common paths SD-WAN routes data through using adaptive breakout protocols:
- Direct internet breakout sends requests for trusted applications, such as UCaaS, to the provider directly with minimal latency.
- Less implicitly trusted SaaS traffic and critical Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) data can be sent to cloud-hosted security services before being sent to the SaaS or IaaS provider.
- If applicable, traffic directed to applications hosted on a central data center must pass through the data center’s firewall and other security functions.
- The same on-premise security system can also inspect potentially suspicious traffic (eliminating the need to deploy the most costly security tools at every branch).
Once initiated, these different breakout policies prevent sessions from moving to a different path until the policies thoroughly vet it and it’s granted further access to business assets. It also allows you to fully customize security protocols according to the type of traffic, which is why SD-WAN was built to immediately identify application and data requests at the first packet — something traditional services did not need.
The ability to route traffic through different layers of security is essential for modern businesses, as employees attempt to access the same applications from other devices that may not have optimal protection. Employees may also need better security habits. Since they only request access to data stored in secure cloud infrastructure, the emphasis on security has shifted to protecting access to the data rather than securing the perimeter of a location..
With so many businesses moving to the cloud, they must be vigilant about traffic that attempts to access the edge of their cloud network, just as they’ve been with access requests to their on-premise servers. The difference is the access points of a cloud network are innumerable. Network administrators thus have a dual need for accessibility tools and security policies, and both factors dramatically improve when SD-WAN is enhanced with a SASE security and accessibility layer.
The key to both of these needs is ensuring several essential elements are consistently maintained, which requires automatically updating the:
- Security policies
- Application definitions
- Web address tables used by cloud applications
While accomplishing these tasks with a basic SD-WAN is feasible, it isn’t practical because it requires coordinating updates at every edge connection and branch. Application performance suffers, and it risks permitting out-of-date, exploitable security policies. Human error can also be a factor due to updates being made in multiple portals from different vendors and technologies.
Securing the Edge
Coordinating security updates from a single console requires more advanced features than SD-WAN can facilitate. Organizations needed a more advanced version of SD-WAN to provide automatic policy updates from a single management interface, which is part of what makes the SASE security and accessibility layer possible.
SASE’s advanced security protocols require first-packet application identification to enable efficient, granular steering of session data. Updates can be scheduled throughout the network as desired, closing the gap between policy updates and active enforcement at every point of the cloud’s edge.
The entire cloud network is updated cohesively, not piecemeal, which ensures steering is accurate while minimizing the first potential point of latency. Even throughout the data flow, security is continually bolstered with trustless verification standards that treat every new request for data, not just logins, as an object of scrutiny. This approach to security policy is necessary for a trustless environment because the network is not physically secured at a specific location.
Security verifications are done seamlessly in the background via micro-segmentation, creating numerous boundaries in a session pathway where automatic security checks occur. Similarly, secured zones across different portions of cloud (and potentially data-center) networks are established to keep different application workloads secured according to their unique security settings.
A SASE-enhanced SD-WAN also provides security redundancy using automatic failovers with secondary policy enforcement points in case a primary enforcement service is unavailable. With SASE, redundancy makes service interruptions on any one part of the network much less of a security vulnerability. Interruptions are also not necessarily a cause for performance concerns.
Improved Network Performance
Automatic reconfiguration of enforcement points also paves the way for enhanced speed and efficiency, making SASE much more than a suite of cloud security tools. Security is one of its core purposes, but SASE also adds several essential accessibility features that SD-WAN cannot perform independently.
Sessions become seamless, and even when administrators must apply more complex quality and security policies, first-packet identification ensures users seldom notice latency. The performance also vastly improves with cloud-friendly apps because the applications are lighter.
Cloud-based service apps no longer depend on the processing power of endpoints, allowing devices (and thus users) to operate more efficiently and reducing deployment times. In large part, SASE allows SD-WAN to harness the lightweight design of SaaS applications, thus boosting device processing power and making them more efficient.
Ease of Use
Ultimately, most end users can access remote work functions as effortlessly as they would log into a website. The security functions of a SASE-backed SD-WAN target the connections between users and service providers, where the data exchange happens — allowing users to use any device with little-to-no pre-configuration necessary.
With SASE, the holy grail of remote work is now a reality: the ability to use any device to access and perform work functions without compromising security. Employees don’t need to understand or learn many security protocols, as they used to with on-premise business networks that required verifying that every user followed strict protocols.
System administrators now have a much easier job, allowing them to focus their efforts on more critical tasks that significantly impact revenue growth than routine system maintenance and tech support. Support is still required, but combining network and security into a single platform can enable deployment with greater ease and efficiency.
Everyone saves time, and end users can apply their creative problem-solving efforts more consistently in line with the company’s goals. Considering the time lost to technical issues can amount to 15-40% of the work day per employee (daily), an efficient network is akin to a windfall of productive labor hours.
Non-Local Control of an Entire Cloud Network
With a single intuitive interface, business owners can manage their comprehensive SD-WAN and cloud-delivered security services regardless of network size or complexity. It places most of its IT service processes on par with the SaaS vendor management approach popular with modern businesses.
Due to its inherent software- (or service)-based environment, a cloud network with SASE places the most critical network management tools in the hands of administrators who, like the company’s general staff, can fulfill their duties off-premises. The entire system is also easily scalable, bringing enterprise-grade network capacities and management into the hands of most businesses.
Integrating SASE With SD-WAN
Because SD-WAN technology is part of the SASE architecture, it can seem like optimal pairing is a crucial issue. That’s a generally correct assumption, but it’s effortless when you find a highly competent provider for both technologies.
While it’s always possible to apply SASE architecture to a preexisting SD-WAN, those beginning from scratch have the opportunity to have their SD-WAN built from the ground up along with their SASE. This ensures the network and security/accessibility suite are as seamless as possible, as both are adapted to the particular needs of the other and built for the company’s unique requirements.
A custom-paired SD-WAN and SASE solution is the ultimate in bring-your-own-device networking freedom. Employees can focus more on their work output than on technical hurdles. With efficient and polished cloud business tools, employees can access work platforms and company assets whenever they feel inspired, resulting in greater flow and efficiency.
The Future of Business
With SASE, SD-WAN is also easily scalable. An attentive network provider offering prompt, white-glove support can help business owners and IT admins grow their cloud-networking tools in lockstep with the company’s revenue growth. Compared to an equivalent physical expansion, the cost savings are enormous.
Software licensing issues are also eased as SaaS providers have embraced the flexibility of cloud business models. Administrators no longer need to deploy licensing keys according to specific, limited numbers of devices.
SASE-bolstered SD-WAN is more straightforward than traditional networking tools, as the primary factors have shifted away from dependency on specific devices such as servers. What matters most for efficient cloud network management also aligns perfectly with the companies’ three main operational concerns:
- Their users
- The applications and data they need to access
- User and workflow requirements for how assets are exchanged on the network
What these three have in common is that they relate strictly to workflow. That may seem obvious enough, but all the more important is what they leave out: equipment hurdles. Unlike yesterday’s networking solutions, employees can begin working from any device when inspiration strikes, while modern network management has a far lower overhead.
Cost savings can be calculated In terms of operational expenditures, which are not locked into server farms and their attendant real estate and utility costs, plus reduced on-boarding burdens and associated salary costs. Vendor relationship management duties are also significantly reduced, freeing time and bandwidth for senior management, their employees, and the IT techs.
Business Network Solutions Wherever You Need Them
Having both SD-WAN and SASE designed by a single experienced network provider is the only way to ensure your transition to the cloud is as seamless as possible and remains so.
While the most experienced SASE developer can design it to accommodate any preexisting SD-WAN, it’s most efficient to have the two built together. They’ll have been optimally configured, and the SASE features can be custom-created according to the precise needs of the SD-WAN.
BCM One’s team of highly respected IT experts is dedicated to providing a world-class experience for organizations with a variety of needs. Contact us if you’re interested in easing your transition to the cloud, and tell our dedicated SD-WAN and SASE experts about your business networking needs.