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The Pros and Cons of Secure Access Service Edge (SASE)

Rohan Timalsina

July 5, 2024 - TuxCare expert team

  • Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) manages and optimizes the delivery of network services across multiple locations.
  • Secure Web Gateway (SWG) protects users from web-based threats by filtering malicious content, including malware, phishing attempts, and unauthorized websites.
  • Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) ensures secure access to applications and data by verifying the identity and context of users and devices, regardless of their location.


Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) has become a hot topic in cybersecurity. It has transformed network security by combining networking and security services, like firewalls and access control, into a single, cloud-delivered solution. This approach addresses the dynamic needs of modern businesses, particularly those leveraging cloud services and managing a distributed workforce.

But, with a growing market and evolving features, is SASE the perfect solution for every organization? Let’s dive into what SASE is, how it functions, and explore the key advantages and potential drawbacks of implementing SASE.


What is Secure Access Service Edge?


Secure Access Service Edge, or SASE (pronounced “sassy”), is a framework that integrates wide area networking (WAN) capabilities with comprehensive security services, all delivered through the cloud. Coined by Gartner in 2019, SASE represents a shift from traditional network security models to a more flexible and scalable approach suited for the contemporary IT environment.


How Does SASE Work?


The Secure Access Service Edge architecture is built on a combination of networking and security functionalities into a unified cloud-based service. The key components of SASE include:


SD-WAN (Software-Defined Wide Area Network)


SD-WAN is a network technology that simplifies network management and enhances user experience by choosing the best route for data traffic to travel across multiple internet connections, whether it’s across the internet, to cloud applications, or between data centers. This optimization ensures smooth and reliable connections for your users, no matter their location.

Traditional WANs often require manual configuration of network devices at each location, which can be time consuming and difficult to maintain across multiple locations. With SD-WAN, deploying new applications and services across multiple locations becomes a breeze. SD-WAN allows centralized policy management and reduces the need for individual configuration at each site, saving time and resources.


Secure Web Gateway (SWG)


A Secure Web Gateway (SWG) is a security solution that filters all incoming internet traffic for malware, phishing attempts, and inappropriate content. It prevents your employees and network users from accessing malicious websites or downloading harmful software. This ensures that only safe and secure internet traffic is allowed into the organization’s internal systems.

Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB)


Think of a CASB as a cloud security guard. It keeps an eye on all the cloud applications and services your employees use, making sure they are safe and secure. It helps prevent data leaks, malware infections, and even regulatory violations.

CASBs work across different cloud environments, whether it’s a public cloud, private cloud, or software-as-a-service (SaaS). They also help you see everything that’s happening in your cloud applications, eliminating any “blind spots.” This allows you to enforce security policies, detect suspicious activity, and make sure everything complies with regulations. Ultimately, CASBs keep your sensitive data protected and your cloud environments secure.


Firewall as a Service (FWaaS)


FWaaS replaces traditional physical firewalls with cloud-based firewalls that provide advanced security features. These include next-generation firewall capabilities like Layer 7 filtering, URL filtering, threat prevention, intrusion prevention systems (IPS), and DNS security. This makes FWaaS a great option for businesses because it provides strong security without the hassle of physical hardware. It’s flexible, easy to manage, and keeps your network safe from evolving threats.


Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA)


ZTNA grants remote users secure access to internal applications. Unlike traditional network access methods, it does not assume any user is trustworthy by default. Instead, it continuously verifies every user and device attempting to access internal resources.

ZTNA operates on the principle of least privilege, ensuring that users are granted only the minimal level of access necessary for their tasks. This reduces the attack surface and prevents unauthorized lateral movement within the network.

Additionally, it provides secure connectivity without exposing internal applications to the internet or placing remote users directly on the network.


Centralized Management


This involves managing your entire network and security from a single control center. It replaces the scattered approach of managing different network and security tools from various consoles. This simplifies tasks like policy enforcement, patch management, change control, and coordination of outage windows. It ensures consistent security policies across all locations and user devices. Centralized management allows organizations to streamline operations, reduce administrative overhead, and enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of their security and network management practices.

These components work together seamlessly in the cloud to provide secure and optimized access for users, devices, and applications regardless of location. They offer a more flexible and scalable security approach compared to traditional on-premise solutions.

The Advantages of SASE


SASE offers several benefits for organizations looking to enhance their security posture and streamline network operations. Here are some of the key advantages:


Enhanced Security


Secure Access Service Edge is a robust security framework that integrates threat prevention, data loss prevention, and secure access policies. This comprehensive approach helps organizations protect against a wide range of cyber threats.


Improved Network Performance


By utilizing SD-WAN technology, SASE optimizes the routing of traffic, reducing latency and improving application performance. This is particularly beneficial for organizations with employees spread across various locations.


Scalability and Flexibility


The cloud-based nature of SASE allows businesses to easily scale their network and security services according to growing user bases and bandwidth demands. This flexibility supports organizations experiencing rapid growth or fluctuating network requirements.


Simplified Management


SASE consolidates multiple security and networking functions into a single platform, simplifying management. This unified approach reduces operational complexity and can result in cost savings.


Remote Work Enablement


With the increase in remote work, SASE provides secure and reliable access to corporate resources for employees working from any location. This ensures consistent security policies regardless of where users are connecting from..


The Disadvantages of SASE


While SASE offers compelling advantages, there are a few potential drawbacks to consider:


Implementation Complexity


Transitioning to a Secure Access Service Edge architecture can be complex and time consuming. Organizations need to carefully plan the migration process, ensuring minimal disruption to existing services.


Dependency on Cloud Providers


SASE relies on cloud infrastructure, so an organization’s network and security operations could be impacted by issues with the cloud service provider.  However, well-designed SASE solutions often have features like redundancy and failover mechanisms to minimize downtime.


Cost Considerations


While SASE can offer cost savings in the long run, it requires the initial investment and migration costs. Organizations should assess the total cost of ownership to determine the financial viability. This involves calculating not just the subscription fees, but also the migration costs and any ongoing maintenance costs.


Integration Challenges


Integrating Secure Access Service Edge with existing legacy systems can be challenging. Compatibility issues may arise, requiring additional resources to resolve these integration problems.


Vendor Lock-In


Selecting a SASE provider may lead to vendor lock-in, limiting flexibility in changing providers later. Organizations should evaluate their vendor options and consider the long-term implications of their choice. 


Should Organizations Use SASE in 2024?


The decision to adopt Secure Access Service Edge architecture depends on your organization’s specific needs and security posture. Here are some factors to consider when evaluating SASE solutions:


  • The size and complexity of your network infrastructure.
  • Your existing security tools and their compatibility with SASE.
  • Are you comfortable with relying on a single vendor for both networking and security?
  • The cost of implementing and maintaining SASE and your organization’s long-term cloud adoption strategy.


SASE is a good fit if:


  • Your business depends on cloud resources and needs secure access.
  • You have a geographically distributed workforce and need to optimize application access.
  • You manage a complex network that demands centralized control.
  • The benefits like enhanced security, improved network performance, and simplified management justify the investment.


Final Thoughts


Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) is a major advancement in network security. By carefully weighing the pros and cons of SASE and considering the above factors, businesses can make an informed decision about whether it is the right fit.

Additionally, for organizations heavily reliant on Linux-based cloud environments, another powerful tool to consider is live patching. Unlike conventional patching methods, this modern approach allows critical security patches to be applied to a running Linux kernel without requiring a reboot. This results in minimized downtime and enhanced security for your cloud infrastructure, further bolstering your overall security posture.

TuxCare’s KernelCare Enterprise provides automated live patching for all major Linux distributions including Ubuntu, Debian, CentOS, RHEL, AlmaLinux, Rocky Linux, Amazon Linux, CloudLinux, Oracle Linux, and more.


Learn how live patching works with KernelCare Enterprise.

The Pros and Cons of Secure Access Service Edge (SASE)
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The Pros and Cons of Secure Access Service Edge (SASE)
Discover the pros and cons of Secure Access Service Edge. Learn how this cloud-delivered solution enhances security for modern businesses.
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