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Secure Service Edge (SSE) in 2023 — is it still relevant?


By NordLayer
1 Dec 2022
10 min read
SSE 2023 predictions

The end of the year is marked by cybersecurity budget planning and checking out the projections and trends of digital transformation progress. Recently, discussions circled around remote work and the new normal — is it still relevant or already shifting to a new direction? Will organizations need to adapt again to other unknown challenges and infrastructure modifications?

Yes, the change is a constant, yet there’s no drastic shift in cybersecurity compared to the last couple of years. Better to say — more precise improvements and crystallization of newly drawn lines in cybersecurity and how companies operate in extended environments, precisely like the Secure Service Edge (SSE) derived from Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) in the context of remote workforces and transition to cloud-native environments.

Let’s review what predictions await the SSE framework in 2023.

Quick overview of SSE

The context of the framework is important to understand before heading to SSE predictions for the year 2023. What defines SSE, what conditions employ it, and what additional circumstances influence the relevance and positioning of SSE?

SSE definition

scheme explaining SASE, SSE and security services differences

The name Secure Service Edge was coined by Gartner in 2021, defining the security element of SASE. Discarding the SD-WAN (the networking part of SASE), SSE contains the remaining core elements of Firewall-as-a-Service (FWaaS), Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB), Secure Web Gateway (SWG), and Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA).

The SSE framework applies to a business setting where a Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) is not required, meaning a company doesn’t have a complex branch network.

Detached from the network stack and providing remote data access despite user location or connection, SSE creates a separate cloud-based security capability segment for hybrid environments in the modern cybersecurity landscape. 

SSE positioning

SSE ecosystem components explainer

SSE is responsible for secure web, cloud services, and application access. The framework implementation correlates with the environments it functions in. Therefore, the topic is broader than strictly focusing on SSE only — the Zero Trust security model and cloud computing with SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) play important parts in seeing the complete picture of SSE’s role in the cybersecurity industry.

Another relevant feature of the SSE framework is remote and hybrid work environments. Cloud-based services and applications are largely used to enable distributed workforces to access company resources. However, remote connections and cloud presence extends not only the perimeter to the internet but also increased attack surface area. 

Therefore, hybrid environments and SSE correlate as internet-based activities that need to be secure. Secure operations on virtualized grounds are the priority of businesses, so more restricted access to only-role required cloud resources and applications is mandatory to maintain adequate protection levels.

Entering 2023: what to expect?

Primarily introduced as a cloud-based service, SSE’s popularity quickly increased after it was presented in early 2021. It was perceived as a more convenient option for organizations not bound to SD-WAN infrastructure. Newly launching modern businesses are already virtually adopting the cloud-centric practice of creating digital teams and work environments.

However, today we see opinions about remote work demand clashing. Ultimatums to return to the office get more frequent as 44% of companies have required their employees to return to work from the office full time. According to Microsoft research, 85% of managers still need to be convinced that their employees can be as productive when working from home.

modes of working predictions

So, will we soon witness the collapse of remote work and affiliated ongoing technological transformation strategies?

Unlikely. Predictions for the upcoming years are favorable regarding cloud services (SaaS) and remote work, so the relevance of securing these environments remains high. Let’s talk numbers into overviewing the forecast:

Positive SSE projections

optimistic SSE predictions chart for the next year

According to Gartner’s Top Eight Cybersecurity Trend Predictions for 2022-23, the SSE adoption curve will rise. Trends show that by 2025, 8 out of 10 enterprises will integrate a strategy to unify web, cloud services, and remote resource access from a single vendor’s SSE platform.

The projected growing single-vendor SSE platform market indicates a continuous need for consistent, efficient, and straightforward security and access to the web and private applications.

Keeping in mind that SSE is a security subset of the secure service edge framework, it’s important to note that the SASE market value is expected to reach USD 4,874.75 million in 2023 and will increase by approximately 162% by 2027.

Moreover, Gartner analysis shows that by 2025, more than half of organizations will have SASE adoption strategies — a sharp rise from 5% in 2020. The tendency is supported by plans of organizations to dedicate 32% of the IT spending budget to SASE implementation.

Zero Trust is on the rise

Zero Trust predictions

The Zero Trust architecture - uncompromised identity verification - has a broad role in cybersecurity. According to Gartner, organizations will increasingly shift to primarily adopting a Zero Trust model, as 60% of companies will perceive the model as fundamental security by 2025.

However, the scope of Zero Trust architecture is a more extensive secure digital transformation goal in the context of the SSE framework. ZTNA technology for securely accessing internal applications hosted on the cloud or data center is one of the core requirements for the enablement of SSE. It denies access to specific data by default if identity verification for the assigned-only role is unsuccessful.

Future projections seem promising to zero trust network access security as Gartner forecasts its growth of 31% in 2023 — up from less than 10% at the end of 2021.

By 2025, ZTNA will be the preferred remote access technology of at least 70% of organizations instead of deploying VPN services.

Focus on cloud computing & services

optimistic SSE predictions list for the upcoming year

The cloud-first approach will become a common principle of over 85% of organizations by 2025. By the same time, Gartner predicts more than 95% of digital workloads will be hosted on cloud-native platforms — a 65% increase from 2021.

In addition, spending on application software directed toward cloud technologies will grow compared to traditional IT solutions and eventually reach 65.9% or two-thirds by 2025.

The trend of cloud computing and SaaS importance will increase as cloud-based infrastructures are perceived to help achieve company sustainability goals. 35% of organizations believe cloud environments and software sustain efficient sustainability targets.

KPMG estimates for 2031 predict nine-time growth of SaaS spending in a decade — a jump from 17% in 2021 to 80% of business applications delivered via the SaaS model.

Remote and hybrid work stands firm

remote and hybrid work predictions

The growing adoption and popularity of cloud environments indicate the need for quality remote work enablement — statistics of the hybrid work model support the parallel interconnection of these approaches.

Although the claims for returning to the office are loud, according to Upwork data, 22% of the workforce in the U.S. will be remote by 2025.

The hybrid work model is backed by changing mindset — the initial challenges of sudden migration to a new work environment were ground-shaking during the pandemic. However, once the right policies and technologies got adopted, 68% of hiring managers started to see the benefits of remote work.

The annual report State of IT revealed that 35% of organizations indicated the need to increase the IT budget to support the remote workforce in 2023, confirming that plans to cut off the remote work model are not yet on the agenda.

What’s next?

A relatively new SSE only started revealing its potential for enabling an uncomplicated and approachable secure remote access standard for businesses. The framework - collection of the core security elements of SASE - gives an advantage for organizations to achieve secure digital transformation goals more quickly and easily.

SSE, directly and indirectly, interconnects with the most hyped cybersecurity and technological directions like ZTNA for secure data access, cloud computing, and SaaS implementation for the most convenient extended workforce deployment and identity-based access segmentation in hybrid environments.

The rise of single-vendor SSE platforms in a few years indicates more consolidated and unified web and applications access and security. Implementing a remote access solution like NordLayer allows a straightforward deployment of SaaS and ZTNA integrations in your company’s digital transformation. Easily enable traffic encryption, reduced-latency connections, and secure access distribution for your remote teams — reach out to our team to learn more.

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