Secure cloud networking in 2024 with SASE and SD-WAN

March 5, 2024
Alexander Broome
Product Manager

The state of secure networking

Hybrid work is here to stay, but it can lead to some complex environments involving mixes of cloud networking—public, private, and cloud services—especially at the enterprise level. The focus of networking continues to be on securing user data no matter where it “lives”—at the office, at home, or while traveling.

Bad actors seek to take advantage of this complexity and lack of visibility. Advanced and emerging threats continue to target supply chains and businesses of all sizes. For example, so-called Malware as a Service utilizes automation to mass produce distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack products available to amateur hackers. 

Failing to take proactive data and technology security measures puts any organization at risk of those with malintent. And that risk is considerable, as lack of security measures leaves businesses vulnerable to financial disaster and broken brand trust. To help prevent that risk from becoming a reality for our clients, we provide best-in-class secure cloud networking solutions and expertise to ensure your organization stays up to date with evolving network security practices. Secure access service edge (SASE) and secure service edge (SSE) are two evolving secure networking solutions that we often recommend to clients—though there exists some confusion between these technologies and others in determining what the best option is for each client.

The Gartner Hype Cycle, which analyzes current and emerging technology through several phases from breakthrough to mainstream adoption, rates SSE at peak hype and SASE at an extremely low interest level. This rating is in opposition to practice, as SSE and SASE are similar technologies that have a comparable level of market saturation and penetration. A further insight from Gartner reveals a growing interest in managed SASE, which provides the entire life cycle of SASE, from implementation to operations, as a managed service through a single provider. Although, as we will discuss in detail in the next section, approaches to providing this service vary. 

Gartner also found that SD-WAN is reaching maturity and steadily moving up the “Slope of Enlightenment” toward the “Plateau of Productivity”. The CBTS team has noticed a trend that many of our clients are beginning to transition from SD-WAN into SASE , using SD-WAN as a foundation for full SASE implementation.

Integrated secure cloud networking technology

A brief refresher on the terminology we will discuss in this post:

  • SD-WAN – Software-defined wide area networking is a well-established networking technology that creates greater reliability and speed by incorporating multiple network transports (Wi-Fi, MPLS, 5G, etc.) to route network traffic.
  • SASE – Secure access service edge essentially combines SD-WAN technology with cloud-first security tools, including CASB, SWG, and next-gen firewalls.
  • SSE – Secure service edge includes the cloud-first security tools without an SD-WAN network.
  • NaaS – Network as a Service (NaaS) is a fully managed networking solution with options for cloud integration, security, switching, Wi-Fi, management, monitoring, and SD-WAN.

The trend toward single-vendor SASE

In recent years, the trend in networking (and computing in general) is streamlining and consolidating various technologies. SASE is no different in that regard, with vendors starting to offer a single-vendor solution encompassing SASE’s many tools and technologies.

However, CBTS maintains that a single-vendor solution is not preferable for every organization. The alternative is to pick and choose the best-of-breed security solutions that make up SASE. This process can be demanding, especially for smaller IT teams. 

The hybrid solution is managed SASE from a provider like CBTS. Managed SASE provides best-of-breed benefits while delivering the single point of contact from a single-vendor SASE vendor. Additionally, CBTS is one of the few vendors offering both single-vendor and managed SASE solutions. 

Learn more: Ten essential benefits of a managed SASE solution

Zero trust

Gartner placed zero trust network access (ZTNA) in the “Slope of Enlightenment” for 2023. SASE and SSE are among the 19 technologies mapped out on the Hype Cycle for Zero Trust. Further, Gartner predicted that by 2026, 10% of large corporations (over $1 billion in revenue) will have a mature zero trust program, representing a 9% growth over the current 1%.

CBTS echoes this prediction and believes that organizations of all sizes will continue to adopt a zero-trust architecture for network access and across the entire IT environment. Zero trust is not any single technology but rather a set of guiding principles that can be used to build a framework across the environment’s various platforms, IT operations, and application security controls. Adherence to a zero-trust framework will grow increasingly important as organizations transition into permanently hybrid environments. 

Learn more: Applying zero trust to reinforce cloud security architecture

Autonomous Digital Experience Management (ADEM)

As networks grow in complexity, managing issues with connection speed, traffic, and applications becomes more challenging, especially with highly distributed workforces that may occupy multiple countries. Digital experience management (DEM) is an emerging discipline that tracks user interactions across an organization’s digital touchpoints—websites, mobile devices, applications, and networks. 

Palo Alto Networks has developed the AI-powered ADEM that works with its SASE solution to help overwhelmed IT teams track issues before trouble tickets start rolling in. Additionally, ADEM can help remediate issues by offering common solutions directly to end-users. For example, a customer experiencing freezing in a video call might receive the prompt to move closer to the Wi-Fi router.

Automation and artificial intelligence

The AI revolution continues to drive innovation across every industry, and AI will drive advances in secure cloud networking well into the future. In addition to ADEM, CBTS sees great potential in automation across cloud networks to simplify and streamline security and traffic routing and help identify and remediate issues. As internet of things (IoT) devices become more mainstream in businesses of all sizes, AI will help secure and manage the traffic from these devices. AI-powered analysis will help organizations mine their data for insights. 

Two technologies to watch as the AI revolution unfolds are AI as a Service (AIaaS) and quantum computing. AIaaS applies the as-a-service model to AI, allowing organizations to deploy a customizable AI across a private cloud without the upfront cost of developing their own artificial intelligence product. Currently, AIaaS is cost-prohibitive because it works only on private clouds. As the technology becomes more affordable, CBTS expects AIaaS to be increasingly utilized.

Quantum computing is still far from commonplace, with only a handful of quantum computers in existence. However, pairing quantum computing technology with AI could lead to some science fiction-like applications. Our CISO, John Bruggeman, provides more insight about quantum computing in his article for Forbes. CBTS predicts that quantum AI will be a trend to watch over the next few years.

Learn more: Machine learning and AI: past to present

CBTS is your partner for future-proof secure networking

Consolidation of SASE solutions, LAN/WLAN infrastructure, automation tools, and security solutions will continue to develop over the next year. These trends will only grow as AI and ADEM networking tools come online to meet the need for efficient and secure networks. Is your organization ready to meet the future of secure networking head-on?

CBTS is renowned for its expertise in project management, complicated deployments, and day-to-day support. CBTS design services guide prioritizing and executing projects over the next three to five years, considering factors like lifecycle management and license expiration. 

Moreover, CBTS is uniquely positioned to help clients stay ahead of the curve in a rapidly evolving industry. Unlike OEMs, whose solutions may become outdated after a few years, CBTS stays vendor-agnostic and evaluates the landscape continuously. This allows our team to create a roadmap for clients that aligns with business needs and helps them stay within the best-of-breed model as technology advances.

Get in touch to learn how you can future proof your secure cloud networks with CBTS.

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