The SASE Opportunity for Agents

Rethinking cybersecurity to protect changing ways of working will require MSPs to support the service. Agents need to choose wisely.

May 27, 2022

5 Min Read

By Ken Bisnoff


Ken Bisnoff

The stretching of the traditional corporate network due to the increase of remote working has forced security leaders and their boardroom counterparts to rethink how they invest their IT budgets to get maximum protection against today’s and tomorrow’s cyberthreats.

For example, in 2021, 84% of organizations globally (registration required) were victims of phishing. According to a study produced by Palo Alto Networks (registration required), the average ransom amount jumped 144% with ransomware-driven attacks that same year.

Cybercrimes will cost companies worldwide an estimated $10.5 trillion annually by 2025. To address the increasing threat landscape, secure access service edge (SASE) has emerged as a new and important networking and security framework that integrates the functionality of software defined networking (SD-WAN) with cloud security features such as zero trust network access (ZTNA), secure web gateway (SWG), cloud access security broker (CASB), and firewall-as-a-service (FWaaS). According to the State of the CIO survey, expanding IT is a key business need driving technology spend in 2023. As a result, SASE deployments represent an opportunity for channel agents in their vital role of helping enterprises steer toward the most effective networking technologies and selecting the best service provider partner.

SASE and Cloud Market Opportunity

As a consequence of hybrid work, businesses are increasingly relying on cloud infrastructure and assessing cloud-native applications through personal or corporate-sanctioned devices. This is where SASE works best: the enterprise environment with widespread use of digital technologies, broad adoption of cloud applications and a remote workforce.

SASE first addresses the growing requirement for zero-trust security policies. Its integration with SD-WAN provides centralized policy control at a site and user level for improved scalability, while network access is based on user, device, and application identity — delivering continuous trust verification and security inspection to protect all data and security applications rather than the physical location or IP address.

SASE is estimated to have a market size of $11.29 billion by 2028, meaning enterprises will make considerable investments but will need a guiding hand to ensure their money is well spent. The best SASE solutions can be configured to meet individual enterprise requirements for antivirus, firewall and anti-malware protections; more effective blocking of malicious sites; augmented cloud security monitoring; and blocking unauthorized access in a work-from-anywhere model.

Network security strategies are increasingly including a SASE component with its ability to leverage a cloud delivery model and integrate networking functionality with security features for improved efficiency, better control and an enhanced user experience. When implemented correctly, SASE reduces complexity, while also providing the ability to set and automate network and security policy — including secure, individualized, accelerated access to the data and application resources companies are increasingly relying on regardless of where they reside.

Service Providers + Channel Partners = Value

Like any innovative technology, SASE should not be presented as a one-size-fits-all solution to businesses. SASE in combination with SD-WAN must be designed to fit the specific needs of each business. In their vital role as trusted adviser to customers, channel agents must choose the right service provider that can add the most value, by looking at their own knowledge of their customers’ pain points and assessing who would be the best managed service provider for each customer.

Customers and channel sellers should partner with a managed service provider with adaptive network technology choices, global connectivity and security packages that incorporate the cloud security functions mentioned earlier. The ideal service provider should also offer a professional services wrapper that includes dedicated skills such as solution architects, design engineers and technical managers to ensure the best technology deployment for the end customer.

This means the channel agent as trusted adviser to the customer must choose the right provider carefully, one that has a deep ecosystem of technologies and flexible packages on offer. To deliver specific business outcomes, businesses need their managed service providers to cut out the complexity and manage the SASE framework on their behalf. Agents should also look for providers who can deliver global Tier 1 internet connectivity alongside secure networking. This is because of the leading role enhanced internet now plays in many enterprise network landscapes, underpinning SD-WAN, for example, in which security should not compromise the quality of network performance and online experiences.

May the Best Agent Win

Ultimately, the SASE opportunity will be one example of the greater truism of how customer service always sets the best providers apart.

While SASE is an intriguing technology, your customers will ultimately judge agents by the quality of the solutions they bring over the entire service experience life cycle. So, while agents must be searching for the most advanced SASE options out there, they also can’t forget that the ability of the managed service provider to support the service will be equally as important.

Ken Bisnoff is senior vice president and channel chief for the Americas division at GTT Communications. In this role, Ken is responsible for overseeing GTT’s indirect sales channel. Previously, Ken was a founding partner at EagleTEQ Advisors and before that a founding member of the executive team at TPx Communications, where he served for over 22 years. You may follow him on LinkedIn or @GTTCOMM on Twitter.

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