Cisco and Zscaler sit 1-2 atop Dell'Oro Group's leader list.

James Anderson, Senior News Editor

September 12, 2023

5 Min Read
SASE market leaders
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Cisco and Zscaler headline a list of SASE market leaders, but some partners are looking elsewhere to serve SMB and midmarket customers.

Research firm Dell’Oro Group revealed its Q2 SASE market report, revealing continuing growth for the hot network security trend. The SASE (secure access service edge) market grew 38% year-over-year in the second quarter of 2023. Moreover, quarterly SASE revenue went over $2 billion for the first time, according to Dell’Oro. It was sitting at $1 billion just 10 quarters ago. That growth comes as businesses seek to make their network and security services more friendly to both mobile- and cloud-based workforces.

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Dell’Oro Group’s Mauricio Sanchez

“Even though sales cycles are longer and additional budget scrutiny is the norm in the current macroeconomic environment, we were pleasantly surprised with the strength of the SASE market,” said Mauricio Sanchez, Dell’Oro senior research director of enterprise networking and security.

Per Dell’Oro’s definition, SASE converges two ideas: software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN), which is a way of managing and optimizing network infrastructure and site-to-site connectivity, and security service edge (SSE), which entails multiple advanced security technologies like secure web gateway (SWG) and cloud access security broker (CASB). Boy, aren’t acronyms fun?

SASE brings SD-WAN and SSE together, with an increased emphasis on “access” that focuses on the user rather a campus.

For Christopher Scott, who leads technology consulting firm StratoNet, the red-hot growth of SASE represents “the reality of 2023.”

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StratoNet’s Christopher Scott

“It’s the obvious upshot of people not coming back to the workplace. When COVID-19 was coming to an end, people were wondering if we would all get behind the firewall again in our cubicles or not — if they would be able put that genie back in the bottle, Scott told Channel Futures. “Obviously they were not able to do that, and we all work from home. I don’t think remote work had really been completely solved until SASE. So I think there’s extraordinary interest in it for people with a remote workforce.”

Sanchez said that SASE is evolving beyond the ability to provide ubiquitous secure access to cloud-based applications. He pointed to SASE solutions that are providing applicaiton monitoring and data protection.

“While many customers look to SD-WAN and SSE’s SWG, CASB, ZTNA and FWaaS functionality as table stakes, vendors that show more and can deliver value to adjacent areas stand to distinguish themselves in a crowded market,” Sanchez said.

SASE Market Leaders

Zscaler took first in market share in the first quarter, but Cisco has retaken the lead among SASE market leaders in Dell’Oro’s measurements. Behind them are Palo Alto Networks, Broadcom (which owns Symantec and will soon own VMware’s VeloCloud) and Fortinet.

Furthermore, Dell’Oro reports that single-vendor SASE providers that provide both SD-WAN and SSE are growing the fastest. Those solutions grew 70% in year-over-year revenue in the second quarter. In addition, they account for more than one-half of the market, in Dell’Oro’s estimation.

A list of the top five single-vendor SASE players removes Broadcom and inserts Versa Networks in fifth.

At around the same time, Dell’Oro named Versa the market leader for unified SASE. Unified SASE, not to be confused with single-vendor SASE, merges security and networking onto the same platform, according to Dell’Oro. Versa possesses 40% unified SASE market share by Dell’Oro’s count..

Many of the aforementioned vendors have built significant partner bases of resellers, integrators and service providers, who either manage the SASE solution themselves or have the end user manage it. But when it comes to provider-managed SASE and the technology advisor (agent) community that frequently sources managed SASE, there’s a different set of vendors in play.

And for StratoNet, whose customers typically lack the resources or the interest to manage the technology themselves, there’s an appetite for these vendors to deliver the solution with their own managed services.

“I’d love to see that. The way SASE is used today, I don’t see how SMB buys it. SMB/midmarket has as much need as anybody,” he said. “So if Meraki or Velo can figured out a way to deliver a true SD-WAN, that would be nice.”

Many of these SASE providers do offer a managed SD-WAN capability through IlECs and CLECs like AT&T, Lumen and Windstream. While Scott said those offerings may come at a good price point for customers, it tends to avoid sourcing SASE through those vendors. Instead, Cato Networks, Aryaka Networks and Comcast Business’ Masergy are favorites for StratoNet. And Cato and Aryaka in particular draw interest for offering both in-house managed services, an in-house cloud-native platform and an in-house global private backbone.

“We think of Cato as kind of the 800-pound gorilla right now. We like that they came to the party kind of late; meaning, they’re not a firewall company trying to be a SASE company. They started cloud-native; they’re already cloud-native,” Scott said.

In the meantime, Scott said StratoNet is engaging with customers who have already deployed SD-WAN hardware and seeking to partner with companies like Masergy and GTT who can co-manage that gear in a sort of “hybrid SASE” solution.

“We’ve got these people who have embedded solutions. Maybe they were an early adopter and bought SD-WAN, and they don’t want to throw it all away,” he said. “So we’re trying to thread the needle there a little bit.”

In related SASE news, Lumen Technologies added security service edge (SSE) and cloud-hosted gateways to its platform.

Want to contact the author directly about this story? Have ideas for a follow-up article? Email James Anderson or connect with him on LinkedIn.

 

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About the Author(s)

James Anderson

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

James Anderson is a news editor for Channel Futures. He interned with Informa while working toward his degree in journalism from Arizona State University, then joined the company after graduating. He writes about SD-WAN, telecom and cablecos, technology services distributors and carriers. He has served as a moderator for multiple panels at Channel Partners events.

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