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Is it time to end our reliance on legacy networks?

In this article our CEO, Justin Day, discusses the extent to which legacy networks are holding back digital transformation programmes. He explains how SASE can deliver network and connectivity solutions that behave and act like the cloud, allowing IT teams to get a site, application, or service online within minutes rather than waiting weeks or months.

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Now more than ever, IT teams are focusing on architectures and investments that will give them the ability to better manage change and increase agility. There is a desire from IT teams and leaders to deliver seamless experiences at the same time as keeping their infrastructure secure. However, many have expanding digital estates with an increasing number of cloud-based technologies and services from multiple suppliers to monitor and manage.

Getting cloud services up and running isn’t the end goal for IT teams. They understand that cloud is a journey to an operating model that is endlessly scaled and upgraded. The real aim is to easily connect and secure all the organization's resources, data, and users in an agile, cost-effective and scalable manner.

Time for change

Many companies still use legacy technologies and approaches that haven’t moved forward. The reality is that legacy network and security solutions designed for traditional, on-premise architectures are struggling to support the evolving demands of today’s businesses. The global chip shortage isn’t helping matters either, with expert analysts at Forrester predicting the shortage will continue this year and likely extend into 2023.

Change shouldn’t be feared, and the chip shortage provides an opportunity to reimagine network designs and deliver better security and performance. While the larger telecom providers will tell their customers to stick out the shortage, there are gradual steps that can be taken to remove dependence on legacy networks.

The inability of these networks to support cloud-native applications and workloads is a real challenge. As more organisations look toward a cloud-first strategy, there is a gap between what their current hardware-centric infrastructure offers and what is needed to realise the benefits of the cloud. The key takeaway here is that gradual change is achievable and acting now is a positive way to stop adding to technical debt.

The Secure Access Service Edge approach

Migrating applications to a cloud infrastructure requires scale and performance. Achieving this can be challenging due to limited visibility into the network and the fact that each platform has proprietary controls for networking and security.

Taking a different approach can be beneficial. By consolidating multiple network and security solutions into a single, cloud-native managed service, organisations can build a digital foundation that will deliver greater agility, flexibility, and choice for the business. This framework is known as Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) and allows IT teams to reach that goal of eliminating the time and costs involved with unnecessary network complexity and managing multiple vendor contracts.

The components of SASE are not new but, in fact, technologies that have been around for a long time. Software-defined wide-area network (SD-WAN), Secure Web Gateway (SWG), Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB), Firewall-as-a-service, and Zero Trust network access (ZTNA). However, the SASE approach takes this collection of technologies to deliver a fresh, modern networking solution. One that supports increased traffic improves real-time communications, delivers secure cloud connectivity, and facilitates digital growth. This reduces the administrative burden on IT teams and facilitates cost savings compared to traditional networking infrastructure.

With SASE, all traffic - no matter where it originates from - can be tracked, cleansed, and recorded. This level of detail provides organisations with full control over which cloud, technology, and connectivity providers are utilised. This means the right tool or technologies can be selected in a timescale and budget that meets their individual requirements. Ineffective or expensive services and infrastructure can be phased out more easily, and as the needs evolve, there is no reason to be tied to a vendor who is delaying the project or isn't innovating.

Every organisation is different, but change is inevitable

Organizations need the ability to provision scalable, secure connectivity between their physical sites, on-premises and cloud environments, partner ecosystems, and remote workers. SASE delivers network and connectivity solutions that behave and act like the cloud so that IT teams can get a site, application, or service online within minutes rather than waiting weeks or months. As new technologies emerge, a SASE approach can deliver the scalability needed alongside a solution that protects against data breaches and threats. Whilst also providing complete visibility of the network, users, and data for an optimised user experience.

For most organisations, the skills, and resources needed to effectively manage their network and security operations are in short supply. Look for a partner that is well-versed in the movement of critical data and secures it in transit. Who can support you with the tools to future-proof performance, reliability, and the security of your network? That way, no matter where you are in your journey, you can rely on your partner to help you adopt SASE in a phased approach and at a pace that suits your organisation and doesn't cause disruption to staff or customers.

This article first appeared on Network Computing on July 28.


Download our latest A Rough Guide to SASE ebook.

By way of an introduction, we have launched our Rough Guide to SASE ebook showcasing the different component parts of the framework and providing an explanation of the value and benefit they can deliver for your organisation.