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SASE or SSE? Don’t let hype distract from enterprise needs

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Secure access service edge (SASE) has generated a buzz over the last couple of years, particularly in light of the pandemic and its associated surge in remote employees. But SASE hasn’t quite materialized in the way Gartner – which first coined the term in a 2019 white paper – initially expected. In particular, there’s been pushback around the idea that SASE should be delivered by a single vendor, as a single integrated cloud service at the network edge.

The SASE model combines network security functions with WAN capabilities, delivering the security elements in the cloud and using SD-WAN at the edge or in the cloud. Key security functions include secure web gateway (SWG), zero trust network access (ZTNA), firewall as a service (FWaaS), and cloud access security broker (CASB).

Some vendors in the SASE market, most notably Cato Networks and Versa Networks, profess to offer the closest version of a one-supplier-one-platform model. That’s the purist view of SASE. Other vendors market what they do as SASE while relying on partnerships, acquiring companies, and developing separate solution components that together create a full-stack portfolio offering.

Lately, however, there’s been a shift in thinking about how to bundle security and networking.

Gartner itself has been instrumental in a roll-back from the idea of SASE to the less-broad secure service edge (SSE) bundle, which includes CASB, SWG, and ZTNA. Gartner introduced the SSE bundling option in its 2021 Strategic Roadmap for SASE Convergence

SSE is basically the security part of the combined security and network services that were supposed to be simultaneously cared for under the SASE model. Gartner’s roll-back to SSE is really just recognizing what is happening in the market and perhaps giving a little more credence to the value of a best-of-breed approach. (Related: Gartner’s SSE is SASE minus the SD-WAN)

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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