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There’s much to love about SASE

Research and real-world results highlight the many benefits of secure access service edge (SASE)

SASE is still an evolving concept, but it has managed to make its way into many of today’s security conversations. Why? Because over the years, cybersecurity has become more complex, costly, and time-consuming – and SASE is one great way to fix it.

What is SASE?

First defined by Gartner, the term SASE (which stands for secure access service edge) refers to the convergence of key security and networking functionality into a single, cloud-delivered service. SASE is designed to enable seamless, secure access to applications from anywhere users work. The intent is to make networking and security a more cohesive and comprehensive function, reducing the operational deficiencies and risky blind spots that result from disjointed systems and processes.

SASE architectures can equip organizations to more quickly adapt to new (and sometimes unexpected) scenarios – such as the massive migration of applications into the cloud, or a large percentage of the world’s workforce suddenly having to do their jobs remotely. When well-executed, SASE promises greater agility, resiliency, security, and even cost reduction. This sounds ideal, of course, but can SASE really provide all of this?

SASE data shows promise

We put this theory to the test for our recent Security Outcomes Study, Volume 2. (While the study was produced by Cisco, the data collection and analysis were conducted by third parties to ensure objectivity.) We first asked study participants whether their SASE implementations are in a more mature or nascent phase. We then compared their responses to how well they are doing with the “Fab Five” security success factors highlighted in the report.

The “Fab Five” are the top practices shown by our data to have the most positive impact on an organization’s security program. Those further along in their SASE implementations performed markedly better across all five practices.

Our initial Security Outcomes Study uncovered that proactively refreshing technology contributes to a strong cybersecurity program more than any other factor. Data from volume 2 of the study found that organizations with more mature SASE implementations are almost twice as likely to have a strong tech refresh strategy compared to those with limited SASE architectures. This is not surprising since SASE and upgraded infrastructure go hand in hand. But as mentioned above, those making greater use of SASE experienced higher performance levels across all of the “Fab Five.”

SASE graph - proactive security tech refresh
Source: Cisco Security Outcomes Study, Volume 2

Another two of the “Fab Five” best practices that lead to positive security outcomes are accurate threat detection and timely incident response. It was found that organizations with more mature SASE adoptions are almost 40% more likely to report strong threat detection and incident response practices.

SASE graph - threat detection and incident response
Source: Cisco Security Outcomes Study, Volume 2

Similar results were seen when comparing SASE maturity with success levels for the remaining two “Fab Five” – prompt disaster recovery and well-integrated technology. Our data demonstrates that those with more advanced SASE utilizations are about 40% more likely to report strong disaster recovery capabilities than those with limited SASE adoptions; and roughly 40% more likely to have well-integrated security technology.

Additional SASE success factors

If that’s not enough, data collected for our study showed that respondents who have advanced further in their SASE strategies are more than twice as likely to be running cost-effective cybersecurity programs than those just starting on their SASE journey. These organizations were also shown to be better at avoiding major security incidents, meeting compliance regulations, and maintaining business continuity.

While the data around SASE certainly holds promise, our customers have also begun to experience substantial security success by embarking on the road to SASE.

Vicinity Centres adopts a SASE approach

When one of Australia’s largest retail property management companies, Vicinity Centres, needed to secure its newly remote workforce, it turned to Cisco Umbrella to get the job done. In addition, the company also wanted to progress in its transition to SASE.

Cisco Umbrella supports both of these objectives by combining a broad set of cybersecurity functions in a unified, cloud-native service, and integrating with Cisco SD-WAN as a critical stepping stone to SASE.

“In an ever-evolving pandemic, we needed to improve operational efficiencies and be more resilient at the same time — and our investment in the Cisco Secure portfolio was part of that strategic IT roadmap and our move to the hybrid cloud,” said Glenn Ong, head of IT operations at Vicinity Centres.

With Cisco Umbrella, Vicinity Centres has been able to boost resiliency and operational efficiency, tighten security for its remote employees, and speed up security investigations – in some cases down from a whole day to just an hour.

Qantas’ SASE strategy takes off

As a leading international airline, Qantas also needed a holistic security solution that would protect remote workers and support its SASE initiative.

According to Adam Kinsella, Qantas’ product owner for network and voice services, “We evaluated another SWG [secure web gateway] provider, however, we chose Cisco Umbrella because it gave us all the functionality we wanted as well as additional features we could turn on in the future. Umbrella was also attractive because we could leverage the integrations with Cisco SD-WAN, among other Cisco products, and maximize our investment.”

Qantas now has comprehensive visibility into internet activity across all users, locations, and devices, and can control access and enforce security protections anywhere.

Start on the path to SASE

These are just some examples of how organizations are transforming their network and security infrastructure with Cisco SASE, and remaining resilient in the face of emerging challenges.

If you want to learn more about the benefits of SASE, check out this quick explainer video:

If you’re ready to embrace secure access service edge, get started now with our SASE bundle.

*Some of the data cited in this post does not appear in the final version of the Security Outcomes Study, Volume 2. While it was collected for the study, the report would have been way too long if we included all the gems!

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