The COVID-19 pandemic forced many organizations around the globe to accelerate their digital transformation plans. Transition journeys that would normally take months or even years to complete were finalized in only a matter of days to support work-from-anywhere remote workforces for the first time.
According to a recent research report, security and IT professionals disclosed that 84% of organizations have recently accelerated their digital transformation adoption initiatives and moves to the cloud. During this transformation, the main challenges experienced revolved around network performance and security. With countless numbers of new devices connected to organizations’ networks, this overloaded the systems and caused a dramatic increase in security risks.
Usually, individuals are afforded time to acclimate to new systems. But the COVID-19 crisis eliminated this ‘grace period,’ resulting in organizations facing significant complaints about the lack of real-time IT support and unreliable network connectivity.
The move to work-from-anywhere resulted in a surge in adoption of systems to enable remote operations. However, it was these same collaboration apps and video conferencing systems that resulted in inconsistent reliability and performance, according to 36% of respondents. As a result, organizations began rolling out various technology solutions to improve network performance and strengthen their cybersecurity protection. One of these new approaches gaining rapid adoption is secure access service edge (SASE).
The Rise of SASE When Upgrading Systems
SASE is the integration of security and networking solutions, such as firewall-as-a-service (FWaaS) and zero-trust network access (ZTNA), into a single service that can be delivered entirely through the cloud. Since many organizations now realize their employees will continue to work remotely, either part-time or full-time, they know they need to future-proof their networks.
Security is a fundamental part of ensuring business continuity above and beyond the challenges of COVID-19, and while most companies prioritize security, according to the research, 49% would still prefer to make it a higher priority. This is where SASE can make a big impact.
SASE enables more reliable connectivity and improved security, which makes it a natural choice for those organizations looking to upgrade their systems. In fact, 87% of survey respondents have already adopted SASE or VPNs, or are considering adopting SASE within the next year.
Speaking of VPNs, they have been a popular option for organizations over the years. However, there has been a significant shift to SASE recently. The research survey revealed that 23% of organizations have adopted VPNs, while 34% have chosen SASE.
The Need for SASE Education
The increased adoption of SASE is not too surprising when you consider the benefits it offers to organizations. One of the main reasons organizations have rolled out SASE is for improved security of applications and devices used by the work-from-anywhere user.
In many cases where SASE has been deployed, however, the solution may not be operating at its full potential, simply because the teams do not fully understand it. Despite growing adoption, the research found only 31% of teams know the accurate definition of SASE. SASE is defined as “The convergence of networking and security services like CASB, FWaaS and zero-trust into a single, cloud-native service model.” As a result of this lack of understanding, some organizations may not be able to realize all the true benefits of their SASE implementations. In fact, 13% of those not planning to deploy SASE admitted to not truly understanding its benefits.
While it’s clear there is a greater need for education around SASE, it’s important to understand that security and IT teams already recognize SASE’s advantages over legacy VPN systems, which contain a collection of security flaws. SASE’s growth is evidenced by the fact that a third of organizations have already adopted SASE, according to the research, and another 30% plan to adopt it in the next six to 12 months. The two main reasons why companies choose not to invest in SASE are because they lack budget for investing in new technology or they have other priorities within the business, the report found. Raising awareness about the benefits of SASE could result in organizations making more informed decisions about their technology choices when the timing is right for them.
Addressing Future Networking and Security Concerns
Looking ahead, the main challenges organizations face are the ability to securely support more work-from-anywhere users and their devices and being able to maintain required levels of service across the organization. SASE is well-architected to support organizations in both of these areas. Not only does it address the need to strengthen the network architecture but it can be deployed through the cloud, delivering greater scale and flexibility across the organization. Since most applications used are based in the cloud, smooth and secure transitions to and from the cloud are critical.
As we continue to grow in the digital transformation era, cybersecurity will continue to be a growing fundamental priority for every organization. Regardless of the industry sector, security contributes to organizations’ continuity; 32% of organizations surveyed worried about their ability to protect their company network from security threats.
Security approaches such as SASE that provide a single point of control will help strengthen network security for organizations, as well as embed protections into every element of network architecture. As the research showed, it is very important for organizations to perform due diligence into the solutions available ahead of implementation so they can hope to realize the highest returns on investment.