SD-WAN vs SASE: What makes them different?

Mike Blunt
Architect, Practice Lead

Just when you thought you had a handle on SD-WAN and its place in the market, enter Gartner’s newest technology – the Secure Access Services Edge (SASE).  

SD-WAN is now mature 

Over the past few years, Software-Defined Wide-Area Network (SD-WAN) technologies have taken over the industry. We have seen acquisition by some of the biggest tech companies, including the recent acquisition of CloudGenix (SD-WAN) by Palo Alto, Silver Peak (SD-WAN) by HPE and Cradlepoint by Ericsson. 

What is SASE? 

SASE pronounce “sassy” is an emerging security model that leverages cloud integration as a key component of its distributed architecture. Solutions such as SD-WAN and network security-as-a-service capabilities are combined into a secure cloud-delivered edge. “Digital business and edge computing have inverted access requirements, with more users, devices, applications, services, and data located outside of an enterprise than inside” states Gartner. 

With these requirements, SASE will allow organizations to inspect and secure users, devices, and applications services from anywhere. 

What makes it different than SD-WAN?

With SD-WAN, security was never the main focus. There are a few vendors with a security-based approach to SD-WAN, but that was never the original intention of this disruptive technology. SD-WAN vendors typically utilize service chaining, a container approach to network services such as firewalls, intrusion protection, and network address translation in a virtual chain, allowing for pointed solutions. With SD-WAN, the cloud is considered an enhancement to the overall architecture, but with SASE, it is foundational. SASE looks to simplify the security stack by delivering secure network access from anywhere.  

The SASE architectural design moves from the traditional data center to virtual and containerized applications in the cloud. Gartner states that “network security architectures that place the enterprise data center at the center of connectivity requirements are an inhibitor to the dynamic access requirements of digital business.” Gartner believes that “Complexity, latency, and the need to decrypt and inspect encrypted traffic once will increase demand for consolidation of networking and security-as-a-service capabilities.”  

With this approach, traffic is decrypted and inspected by multiple policy engines at one time. SASE allows for a single-pass approach seen in next-generation firewall solutions. The approach increases performance and data protection because the traffic isn’t repeatedly accessed as it is passed from one security function to the next, as seen with SD-WAN solutions. 

What’s next for this disruptive technology? 

“By 2024, at least 40% of enterprises will have explicit strategies to adopt SASE, up from less than 1% at year-end 2018,” stated Gartner. Since SASE is still a new technology, vendors are determining how to incorporate solutions, including SD-WAN, as well as go to market strategies and key differentiators. There are a few vendors in the driver seat and look to be hitting the ground running. 

When you are ready, NetCraftsmen Consultants are available to discuss SD-WAN and SASE systems to improve productivity and reduce risk to your business. Let us know how we can help by contacting us here. 



Nick Kelly

Cybersecurity Engineer, Cisco

Nick has over 20 years of experience in Security Operations and Security Sales. He is an avid student of cybersecurity and regularly engages with the Infosec community at events like BSides, RVASec, Derbycon and more. The son of an FBI forensics director, Nick holds a B.S. in Criminal Justice and is one of Cisco’s Fire Jumper Elite members. When he’s not working, he writes cyberpunk and punches aliens on his Playstation.


Virgilio “BONG” dela Cruz Jr.

CCDP, CCNA V, CCNP, Cisco IPS Express Security for AM/EE
Field Solutions Architect, Tech Data

Virgilio “Bong” has sixteen years of professional experience in IT industry from academe, technical and customer support, pre-sales, post sales, project management, training and enablement. He has worked in Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC) as a member of the WAN and LAN Switching team. Bong now works for Tech Data as the Field Solutions Architect with a focus on Cisco Security and holds a few Cisco certifications including Fire Jumper Elite.


John Cavanaugh

CCIE #1066, CCDE #20070002, CCAr
Chief Technology Officer, Practice Lead Security Services, NetCraftsmen

John is our CTO and the practice lead for a talented team of consultants focused on designing and delivering scalable and secure infrastructure solutions to customers across multiple industry verticals and technologies. Previously he has held several positions including Executive Director/Chief Architect for Global Network Services at JPMorgan Chase. In that capacity, he led a team managing network architecture and services.  Prior to his role at JPMorgan Chase, John was a Distinguished Engineer at Cisco working across a number of verticals including Higher Education, Finance, Retail, Government, and Health Care.

He is an expert in working with groups to identify business needs, and align technology strategies to enable business strategies, building in agility and scalability to allow for future changes. John is experienced in the architecture and design of highly available, secure, network infrastructure and data centers, and has worked on projects worldwide. He has worked in both the business and regulatory environments for the design and deployment of complex IT infrastructures.