Adoption of security access service edge (SASE) is the need of the hour for enterprises rather than a futuristic ambition. As discussed in our previous blogs of this ongoing series, SASE is the gateway to secure, evolutionary, and collaborative operations with a focus on value-based outcomes.
While managed service providers (MSPs) play a critical role in steering the SASE journey, enterprises should still be mindful of the implementational challenges. This blog will take a close look at the most common problems that impediment SASE implementation and the best ways to overcome them.
Challenges of SASE implementation
Despite being an obvious decision for enterprises, SASE implementation comes with its share of teething issues. Some inherent challenges include:
- Complexity of managing networking and security integration into a unified SASE architecture.
- Cost and time-intensive process of replacing existing legacy systems with a SASE framework.
- Accommodating growing network traffic and user demands with effective scaling of the SASE solution.
- Planning carefully to avoid vulnerabilities and breaches while shifting to a cloud-based model.
- Ensuring seamless and consistent user experience across diverse locations and devices.
- Meeting regulatory compliance requirements across different regions and industries.
- Complexities of integrating SASE with existing IT infrastructure, applications, and services, requiring workflow changes.
- Cost management and optimisation in the initial stages of SASE implementation.
- Continuous and efficient monitoring and management of the SASE environment.
Choosing the right SASE vendors and solutions that align with an organisation’s needs and future goals is crucial, yet it can be overwhelming given the abundance of options.
“According to Omdia’s Cybersecurity Decision-Maker Survey, 2023, when practitioners were asked about their stage of adoption for SASE, more than 70% of respondents indicated they have some level of activity: widespread production usage, localized usage, or active pilot” – Fernando Montenegro, Senior Principal Analyst, Infrastructure Security, Omdia.
In the pursuit of meeting their networking and security objectives, enterprises often choose point solutions over end-to-end managed services. This can result in suboptimal SASE outcomes and future issues. Among the various SASE implementation challenges faced by enterprises, here are a notable few:
- Inadequate collaboration: Enterprises often grapple with their security, network, and IT teams functioning in silos. The lack of real-time collaboration and joint decision-making set enterprises back considerably in their SASE endeavours. Merging networking and security teams into one IT team within a fully implemented SASE model is essential, regardless of the organisation’s size or working model.
- Inconsistent architecture: SASE implementation can sometimes be plagued by a mismatch in policy making and enforcement. The cloud architecture is a key feature, but many solutions are not truly cloud-based, as vendors often build them from existing technology. They may provide SASE via public cloud, colocation centres, or both, in addition to virtual and legacy appliance architectures. This can lead to critical foundational flaws and architectural inconsistencies.
- Integration and interoperability: SASE demands features that seamlessly integrate with other agents, diverse cloud gateways, and various proxy types for simplified deployments and a holistic solution. Patchworks of standalone products do not help the cause.
- Skill gaps and organisational culture: Enterprises often face a dearth of relevant skills as conventional IT resources are found wanting when adopting and integrating SASE into the existing infrastructure. The problem is also compounded by occasional resistance and scepticism around the changes that SASE brings.
- Distributed systems: Cloud-native SASE relies on its global network of cloud gateways (Points of Presence, or POPs) to ensure consistent application performance and quality for all users. Organisations can use their own gateways but may find it expensive, or they can opt for gateways from their SASE vendor or service provider.
- Change management: Introducing a SASE solution often necessitates substantial alterations to entrenched corporate infrastructure practices. A poorly planned and hurried transition to SASE can impact productivity and collaboration, potentially creating security vulnerabilities until the new setup is fully established.
The best practices for implementing SASE
While there are some clear implementational challenges, they are not deterring enterprises from aggressively pursuing SASE in their quest for secure and seamless cloud-based operations.
Studies have found that in the last year, remote connectivity, network security, and cloud security have emerged as the key drivers of SASE adoption. Moreover, the strategic application of SASE is reaping rich dividends for enterprises in the form of IT operational efficiency, user experiences, security performances, and compliance. With so much to offer, implementational challenges should not hinder SASE adoption for forward-thinking enterprises. So, how do they overcome these barriers and successfully implement SASE? Here are the best practices to follow:
- Assessment and planning: Start with a comprehensive assessment of your existing network and security infrastructure. Understand your organisation’s specific needs and goals before planning the SASE implementation.
- Hybrid transition: Gradually transition to SASE to avoid disruptions. Consider a phased approach, starting with select locations or user groups to ensure a smoother migration.
- Security: Prioritise security throughout the SASE implementation process. Implement zero-trust principles, strong encryption, and robust identity and access management.
- Scalability: Plan for scalability to accommodate future growth and changes in network demands. Ensure your SASE framework can adapt to evolving business needs.
- Integration strategy: Ensure seamless integration with existing systems, applications, and workflows. SASE should work harmoniously with your current IT environment.
- Testing and validation: Conduct thorough testing and validation at each phase of the SASE implementation to identify and resolve any issues before they impact the entire organisation.
- Disaster recovery and redundancy: Implement robust disaster recovery and redundancy measures to ensure business continuity in case of unexpected disruptions.
- User training and feedback: Provide training and resources to educate employees about the new SASE environment, security protocols, and best practices. Also, gather feedback from users and IT teams to fine-tune your SASE implementation over time.
- Compliance: Ensure compliance with regulatory requirements in all regions where your organisation operates. SASE should support compliance efforts with built-in features.
- Partner selection: Finally, partner with a trusted SASE MSP that aligns with your organisation’s requirements and provides scalable solutions. Consider factors like global presence, security capabilities, and performance.
As we galvanise the future of technology-enabled workspaces, SASE will be an essential component for future-focused organisations. By eliminating key implementation challenges, enterprises will be well on the course to the road ahead- something we will explore in detail in our upcoming blogs.
To learn more about Tata Communications’ SASE offering, click here.