SASE drives network and security team collaboration

Successful implementation and management of secure access service edge technology requires strong partnerships between network and security teams. It might be better for organizations and SASE vendors to recognize and respond to this truism sooner rather than later.

SASE is an architecture that integrates software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) technology and cloud-based security tools. SD-WAN is a mature technology typically owned by network engineering and operations teams. Cloud-based security, increasingly described as secure service edge (SSE), includes capabilities often owned by security teams.
The following services are typically included in an SSE offering:

Cloud access security brokers.
Firewall as a service.
Data loss prevention.
Malware protection.

In other words, SASE combines two technology stacks owned by separate groups that have different skills, cultures and missions. When the time comes to implement SASE, these teams have to collaborate to make things work.

Research documents SASE as collaboration driver
Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) recently surveyed 304 IT professionals who engage with SASE. In its report, “NetSecOps: Examining How Network and Security Teams Collaborate for a Better Digital Future,” EMA found that 83% of respondents have observed SASE’s effect on collaboration between network and security teams.
“I see SASE driving collaboration,” a network engineer with a midmarket technology reseller told EMA. “I’ve been on a couple of different projects where we have SD-WAN and we’re integrating it with cloud-based security. The security team will be brought in early, and that’s when collaboration is successful.”

How SASE-driven collaboration works
EMA sees two varieties of network and security partnerships playing out with SASE. In one scenario, the two groups work together and co-own the technology throughout its lifecycle. In the other scenario, one group takes the lead and owns the technology, and the other group has more of a consulting role.
For instance, the network team might implement and manage the SASE architecture, while the security team offers advice on vendor selection or logs in to the tool to set and validate security policies.
“SASE is completely owned by my team,” a network engineering manager at a midsize business services company told EMA. “Enterprise security worked with us. … We do the configuration and own everything, but we give them access to see if the policy is correct.”
EMA identified how often various aspects of SASE projects are equally shared by network and security teams. More than 40% of respondents reported shared responsibility in the following areas:

Vendor selection.
Day 2 operations.

In other enterprises, one group or the other is primarily responsible for these four stages of SASE engagement.

Multivendor SASE drives more collaboration
Vendor strategy dictates how things might play out. Specifically, multivendor SASE strategies drive more network and security collaboration than single-vendor strategies.
Among organizations that use single-vendor SASE products, only 30% told EMA that SASE drives significant collaboration between network and security teams. Organizations that follow a multivendor SASE path — such as integrating SD-WAN with one or more SSE products — were more likely to report significant increases in network and security team collaboration.
In that group, the network team likely has an SD-WAN vendor in mind, and the security team suggests an SSE vendor. The integration of those products into one architecture requires effective partnerships between teams, even if an organization relies on a system integrator or managed service provider to do the heavy lifting.
Organizations that plan to adopt SASE should consider booking meetings with counterparts on the other side of the networking-security divide. The sooner teams start a dialogue with these colleagues, the better they might do with this technology.
Shamus McGillicuddy is the vice president of research for the network management practice at Enterprise Management Associates (EMA). He has more than 15 years of experience in the IT industry and has written extensively about the network infrastructure market. Prior to joining EMA, McGillicuddy was the news director for TechTarget’s networking site.