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From SD-WAN to SASE: How the WAN Evolution is Progressing

Cato Networks | General news | Security
April 23, 2024

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From SD-WAN to SASE: How the WAN Evolution is Progressing


In 2020, Gartner introduced Secure Access Service Edge (SASE), significantly transforming the network and security industries by enhancing the capabilities of SD-WAN with cloud integration. SASE offers a comprehensive solution for WAN connectivity and security by combining the foundational aspects of SD-WAN with additional features, addressing limitations of traditional appliances, and providing a more robust and secure networking solution.

SD-WAN itself made strides as a cost-effective, reliable, and flexible solution for cloud-based environments, overcoming limitations of previous technologies like MPLS and addressing issues such as trombone-routing and last-mile network faults. Despite its benefits, SD-WAN falls short in areas like global backbone support, advanced security features, and mobile workforce connectivity.

SASE advances this further by integrating various services, including SD-WAN, into a unified security and network management platform. This new framework supports any edge endpoint, offers a global network backbone, and reduces the complexity of managing multiple devices and services. By consolidating networking and security into a single platform, SASE enhances visibility, reduces operational costs, and simplifies the IT infrastructure, making it the preferred enterprise WAN solution today.

Industry experts and forecasts suggest a significant adoption of SASE by 2024, with companies like Horizon Telecom leading the way in providing comprehensive WAN connectivity and security services through a cloud-native architecture and advanced security features.

Luuk Halewijn explains

In 2020, Gartner’s launch of Secure Access Service Edge, or SASE, marked a significant transformation in the network and security sectors. This development propelled SD-WAN, a key technological trend at the beginning of the decade, into the spotlight by integrating cloud capabilities for enhanced security.

SASE represents a complete solution for WAN connectivity and security services, combining the core networking features of SD-WAN with additional functionalities to offer a more comprehensive solution than traditional appliances alone can deliver.

As networking enters a new era, the evolution of WAN is steering us towards SASE. We’ll delve into the intriguing connection between SD-WAN and this nascent technology to understand the advancements in our networks.

SD-WAN: A step forward in WAN evolution

As workloads shifted to the cloud, SD-WAN technology provided enterprises with a reliable and agile alternative. It proved to be more budget friendly than MPLS for numerous applications. This innovative option gained considerable traction throughout the past decade as an effective solution for WAN connectivity in multiple clouds.

SD-WAN technology revolutionized the WAN landscape, enabling enterprises to maximize network performance and cost efficiency while simultaneously addressing trombone-routing problems and issues. This state-of-the art solution also supplies a wealth of extra fault tolerance in last mile networks.

Enterprises have rapidly embraced SD-WAN, illustrated by its position as the 3rd most popular primary use case in Cato’s 2019 Networking Survey and most favored of all cases in 2020.

What SD-WAN appliances alone can’t deliver

As enterprises moved their workloads to the cloud, SD-WAN technology emerged as a dependable and flexible option. It offered a more cost-effective alternative to MPLS for many applications. Over the past decade, this innovative approach has gained significant popularity as an effective solution for WAN connectivity across various clouds.

As the need for cloud connectivity has grown, dissatisfaction among SD-WAN users has increased. This is because modern networks need more than just static site-to-site connections—they require public Internet access and sophisticated cloud services. While SD-WAN appliances bring enterprises closer to meeting their needs, they are not fully equipped to handle all the networking and security challenges that today’s businesses encounter. Specifically, SD-WAN appliances exhibit the following limitations:

  • Lack of a global backbone: SD-WAN appliances operate on top of the existing network infrastructure, which leaves the requirement for a high-performing and dependable network backbone unmet by SD-WAN appliances alone.
  • Lack of advanced security features: SD-WAN appliances accommodate numerous contemporary networking scenarios but fall short of meeting security needs. Consequently, enterprises frequently have to juggle a mix of security and networking devices from various providers (such as CASBs) to fulfill their requirements. This situation contributes to higher network expenses and complexity, as each device needs to be acquired, set up, and maintained either by internal IT teams or a Managed Service Provider (MSP).
  • No support for the mobile workforce: SD-WAN appliances are inherently designed for site-to-site connectivity. However, they do not address the secure connection of mobile users.

SASE: The next leap forward

SD-WAN offers significant benefits but lacks comprehensive coverage. This gap is filled by the promise and potential of SASE, which integrates various components to deliver a unified security solution. By incorporating multiple services, including SD-WAN, SASE provides complete and reliable protection.

SASE enables organizations to connect and secure their edges—from sites to mobile users and cloud resources—while benefiting from the cost-effectiveness of Internet access combined with the reliability and performance of MPLS. This is achieved by directing traffic through a Point of Presence (PoP) on an optimized global network, ensuring maximum security without sacrificing agility or reach.

SD-WAN equips businesses with an efficient and cloud-compatible network, yet SASE elevates this further. By merging cost efficiency and agility with robust networking capabilities and inherent security within its core architecture, along with a private backbone for secure end-to-end connectivity, SASE offers the comprehensive solution that organizations have been seeking.

Key characteristics of SASE include:

  • Cloud-native architecture: A cloud-native, multitenant approach to WAN infrastructure allows SASE to support any edge endpoint, such as the mobile workforce, without compromising on performance or security. Additionally, this means that the intricacies of upgrades, patches, and maintenance are managed by the SASE provider, freeing enterprises from these responsibilities.
  • Global network backbone: A private network backbone, like Cato’s which includes over 70 PoPs and provides a 99.999% uptime SLA, enables SASE to offer a level of reliability that standalone appliances cannot achieve.
  • Convergence of networking & security: SD-WAN represents just one component of the larger WAN networking and security framework. SASE complements SD-WAN with features like NGFW, IPS, CASB, DLP, and SWG. By integrating the entire network and security infrastructure into a single cloud-native platform, enterprises gain enhanced visibility, reduced silos, and improved security.
  • Simplified management: By eliminating the need for numerous appliances and complex integrations, and by offering a straightforward management interface, SASE simplifies WAN management. Consequently, operational expenses and network complexity are reduced, freeing IT to concentrate on core business functions rather than infrastructure upkeep.

SASE offers enterprises the chance to manage their distributed networks efficiently and securely with a comprehensive solution that significantly surpasses the capabilities of traditional security appliances.

SASE is the enterprise WAN standard of today

With its integration of SD-WAN and advanced security features, SASE has become the preferred solution for enterprise networks. Its revolutionary approach to WAN provides considerable benefits, to the extent that Gartner forecasts that at least 40% of enterprises will adopt SASE by 2024. Widely acclaimed by industry experts, this innovative architecture is poised for further expansion in the future.

Why Horizon Telecom

If you’re looking for a reliable and comprehensive solution to your WAN connectivity and security services, look no further than Horizon Telecom. As the WAN evolution progresses towards SASE, it’s essential to have a partner that can keep up with the latest technology.

Horizon Telecom provides a private global network backbone, cloud-native architecture, and advanced security features such as IPS, CASB, and SWG. By choosing Horizon Telecom as your MSP partner, you can benefit from simplified management, increased visibility, and enhanced security, all delivered as a single cloud-native platform. Don’t wait to leap forward with SASE – partner with Horizon Telecom for a complete and reliable solution to your WAN needs.

Contact us today or sign up for a demo to experience firsthand how Horizon Telecom can help you stay competitive in today’s ever-evolving marketplace. With Horizon Telecom as your partner, you’ll have the peace of mind that comes with knowing your network is secure and optimized for success.