NordLayer - Network Security

SASE Adoption: step by step guide & mistakes to avoid

By NordLayer
18 Mar 2022
10 min read
SASE Adoption: step by step guide & mistakes to avoid

Today's business owners know the importance of supporting remote workers connected to company resources, distributing traffic to manage heavy workloads across the network perimeter, and protecting sensitive data and assets from outside threats. They need a standardized solution to put business resources and data protection systems into cloud environments, modernize legacy infrastructure, and work in more agile and dynamic ways. 

What is SASE & Why is SASE important? 

Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) is a cloud-defined framework of network security features. When combined, organizations can utilize SASE to ensure tenable business continuity. 

Wide-area networking and malware detection functions operate together to enhance risk mitigation. Analysis of trust levels within a company perimeter incorporates traffic and network monitoring and filtering solutions as the core SASE capabilities

Usually, fundamental SASE focus points include software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) with cloud-based security services like firewall as a service (FWaaS), secure web gateways (SWGs), cloud access security broker (CASB), and zero-trust network access (ZTNA).

Steps to successful SASE adoption

Companies should adopt the SASE framework if they consider cybersecurity a serious concern and wish to evolve their technological defenses. But how do they do this?

It’s important to note that the SASE framework doesn’t exist as an all-in-one platform you could purchase from a single service provider. It is an architecture that the company has to build using technical solutions, staff participation, an excellent organizational mindset, and continuous supervision to succeed.

Even though SASE isn’t available as a single-purchase product, some providers develop solutions that target the central concept of the framework. Compared with legacy infrastructure, SASE-based security makes network protection less complex to maintain and scale as per company growth. Many companies are already transitioning to the SASE framework. Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Audit & evaluate company infrastructure status 

Good planning starts with a holistic overview of the company’s technological environment, internal validation procedures, and an evaluation of what’s needed. Evaluating your current security setup allows you to make informed choices on how to improve your architecture moving forward. Identifying knowledge gaps is also essential at this stage.

PRO TIP: Ask questions & analyze. Collecting information and identifying problems helps define what existing practices benefit the company. Clearly define the desired end-goal of the SASE adoption, why the company needs it, and how it will benefit the organization once implemented.

Step 2: Have a plan

Effective implementation requires a comprehensive action plan. Know what you want to implement and what you’re prioritizing. Ensure there is nothing left off of your list.

PRO TIP: Assessment of SASE deployment stages, goals, and objectives is easier to determine when aligned with the industry’s readily provided security compliance requirements and standards for best-practice roadmaps.

Step 3: Get a SASE solution vendor list

You may have an extensive list of security measures that will have to be compatible to create your robust network security framework. Consequently, you must choose a vendor that provides the most suitable SASE-based security solution with offering relevant features.

PRO TIP: As none of the vendors can provide a single solution for the SASE framework, pay attention to solution scaling capabilities that fit your company’s size and needs.

Step 4: Segment & categorize

Once the process of SASE implementation is in the works, it’s easier to break operations and information assets down into smaller segments for a smoother transition. Consolidation of procedures and functions into more manageable units and services allows revising and narrowing down existing processes for optimizing resource dependency.

PRO TIP: Prepare to migrate used tools and SaaS applications to cloud services by batches and link them with pre-defined team roles for maximum optimization.

Step 5: Test, monitor & improve

SASE implementation can be like trial & error at times. Once you’ve installed part of your SASE setup, test it to analyze and improve how security policies work.

PRO TIP: Place a dedicated team to monitor and troubleshoot newly set procedures and functions to eliminate any possible gaps left in the process. 

Typical mistakes that can affect SASE adoption

Implementing SASE solutions is challenging, and organizations do make common mistakes. For successful cloud security and data protection with SASE, it’s essential to prevent missteps by learning from previous errors:

Dismissal of core SASE architecture requirements

SASE architectures establish core networking and security capabilities. The cornerstones of transitioning to SASE are SD-WAN, CASB, SWG, FWaaS, and ZTNA. It is also advisable to look at alternatives like domain name system (DNS) protection, remote browser isolation (RBI), software-defined perimeter (SDP) according to your company’s needs.

Incorrect review of company needs

It’s vital to remember that companies already have operational security policies that are SASE-aligned—not every business must start from scratch. Evaluate existing security measures that match SASE and assess what additional solutions are needed.

How can NordLayer help?

NordLayer provides business-first security that aligns with SASE architecture and the Zero Trust model that helps small and medium-sized businesses modernize their security infrastructure. It's designed with scalability in mind, offering security features that support companies with whatever growth challenges they face. 

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