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No Business Is an Island: MSPs Can Throw a Lifeline to Help Deploy SASE

Security is built into network with secure access service edge so staff doesn't need to manage it separately.

November 4, 2021

5 Min Read
Lifeline, life raft

By John Atchison


John Atchison

The ongoing work-from-anywhere culture is demanding greater attention around network performance and effective security. Yet, many businesses are left feeling overwhelmed about addressing the challenges with system deployment, management and administration – and so the conversations about these issues are often abandoned for other priorities.

Managed service providers (MSPs), therefore, are in an ideal position to help them overcome the barriers and assist in the adoption of new technologies. The rising star for MSP’s network and security portfolios is secure access service edge (SASE), which has quickly become a popular choice for those looking to provide integrated security and networking services to organisations that need to unite the two to achieve optimal connection and user experience.

SASE is also a rapidly growing market, with 87% of businesses having already deployed the solution or considering its adoption in the next year. This level of demand suggests there will be a host of organisations looking to MSPs for a helping hand during the deployment process, creating numerous opportunities for these MSPs to boost their business. What’s so special about this solution?

We recently compiled a list of 20 top SD-WAN providers offering products and services via channel partners.

Diving Into the World of SASE

Over the past decade, network and security have been addressed as separate entities. Not only has this resulted in misalignment between the two, but it has also created more work for teams trying to manage them separately. SASE unites the two to create an integrated solution. In addition to strengthening the network architecture and ensuring greater flexibility through the cloud, SASE provides a single point of control. This allows for ease of use and delivers a comprehensive overview of the business structure. Security becomes a guaranteed element within all areas of the network, so teams no longer must allocate extra time and resources to manage it separately.

The demand for SASE is rising, with organisations continuing to review their IT strategies as they navigate out of the primary stages of the pandemic. Businesses are still trying to grapple with the challenges of security, and so for MSPs, having SASE as part of the portfolio will present opportunities for growth and further business. SASE’s seamless operation in the cloud environment, and integration capabilities with existing security stacks, adds to its benefits. Put simply, SASE is the key that can unlock the door to a unified network and security future, and MSPs would be wise to keep it in their sights.

Lending a Helping Hand

Tackling the SASE journey alone is often too great of a challenge for businesses, and so the initiative is dropped. It can be overwhelming for teams developing plans to restructure their network and security models alone, especially without the added support of large IT resources. Not only does it require plenty of research before any steps are taken, but it also means teams are forced to reallocate resources and time to manage the implementation process.

MSPs therefore have an excellent opportunity to deliver an effective SASE approach by providing businesses with the missing manpower and resources of a large, fully equipped internal IT team.

One of the biggest barriers that MSPs will need to help organisations overcome when adopting SASE is the lack of understanding around the fundamentals and potential benefits. Our survey revealed that less than a third of security professionals were able to correctly identify the complete definition of SASE. And out of those choosing not to adopt SASE, 13% admitted the reason was because …

… they didn’t understand the benefits it would deliver. Because MSPs deliver extensive knowledge and expertise, they can help organisations achieve a complete understanding of how SASE will improve their network and security stance. MSPs should work closely with organisations’ internal IT teams, ensuring a seamless journey that remains aligned with their overall business objectives.

Mapping the Route

Each MSP has its specialty and strengths, and it’s important to showcase these to businesses looking to find the perfect match for their goals. If the value isn’t clear, then their gaze will pass right over. Think of it as a relationship. The introductions come before the commitments.

Once an MSP gains interest from a business, its next task is to dive into the technical details. The purpose of SASE is to combine network and security into one watertight solution – it’s vital that the chosen MSP can guarantee the seamless performance desired by the business. If the proposed solution is just a merging of random SASE elements without a coherent strategy, then the message behind the solution is undermined, and will ultimately fail to deliver an effective SASE platform.

The final element is ensuring growth in the future. Organisations rarely invest in solutions that only guarantee short-term success – preparing for the future is their ultimate goal. So, the final question an MSP will need to answer is: will the SASE solution offer allow their company to grow at the rate needed to keep up with business demand? Depending on budgets and readiness, each business will have its own capacity of what is achievable in the beginning. But it’s important for MSPs to demonstrate the opportunity for growth so the capacity is available when required.

There’s strong momentum in the SASE market, creating numerous opportunities for skilled MSPs. Service providers should be the guiding light for businesses on the SASE journey. So many companies are ready to take the first step. More importantly, they understand the urgency, but cannot get their heads around how to manage the process with their limited resources. MSPs are in a valuable position to help organisations strengthen their network and security infrastructure, without the organization consuming huge amounts of time and money in the process. Businesses will be looking to MSPs for help, so showcasing valuable capabilities and expertise will help them stand out from the rest.

John Atchison is head of global channel marketing at Versa Networks. His previous experience includes marketing positions with Apstra, Sage and Oracle. He earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing from San Jose State University and an MBA in management from St. Mary’s College of California. You may follow him on LinkedIn or @versanetworks on Twitter.

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