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.