The relevance of Gartner SSE in 2023 and beyond

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 and handle web-based threats, precisely like the Security Service Edge (SSE) derived from Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) in the context of remote workers and transition to cloud-native environments.

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

Key takeaways

  • The adoption of Secure Service Edge (SSE) is poised to grow significantly in 2023 due to the rising trend of remote work and the escalating need for secure and swift cloud-based access to digital resources. 

  • Experts predict that traditional security solutions will increasingly give way to more integrated and holistic approaches like SSE, which combines Wide Area Networking (WAN) capabilities with cloud-native security functions. 

  • Gartner is forecasting that by 2024, 40% of enterprises will have strategies to adopt SSE. It's evident that businesses need to stay ahead of this curve to maintain a secure and efficient network infrastructure. 

Quick overview of SSE

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

SSE definition

scheme explaining SASE, SSE and security services differences

The name Security Service Edge was coined by Gartner’s research organization in 2021, defining the security element of Secure Access Service Edge. 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.

According to Gartner research publications, the Magic Quadrant for Security Service Edge defines agents like Cloud Access Security Broker or Secure Web Gateway to secure cloud-based users and data without compromising network performance.

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

Security Service Edge 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 private 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 Security Service Edge correlate as internet-based activities that need to be secure. Security services to protect 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.

Understanding Gartner's Magic Quadrant  

Gartner has introduced a Magic Quadrant, a research and data analysis-based graphical representation to demonstrate market trends, including its direction, maturity, and participants. 

A visual snapshot provides a broad view of how different technology providers measure against criteria for that marketplace by evaluating their strengths, weaknesses, and position in the market.

The Magic Quadrant categorizes vendors into four distinct categories:

  • Leaders. Organizations with a robust global presence with a track of record for demonstrating competency and capability to deliver on their promises.

  • Challengers. These are established companies poised for a breakthrough, typically excelling in a specific product or service.

  • Visionaries. Dynamic companies that are innovative and future-focused, often ahead of the market's needs, yet may lack a robust presence or broader product portfolio.

  • Niche players. Businesses that excel in a specific market segment yet lack range or have other weaknesses.

Gartner’s SSE Magic Quadrant & leading vendors

The analytical representation of a market at a specific time and for a specific period is conducted for several specific technology industries, SSE included.

Gartner’s SSE Magic Quadrant for 2023 showcases several vendors who have made their mark as industry leaders, challengers, visionaries, and niche players:

Gartner's SSE Magic Quadrant

  • Leaders. Cisco and Zscaler have distinguished themselves in this category for consistently providing robust and comprehensive SSE solutions. They have proven their ability to anticipate and meet evolving customer needs head-on, often leading the charge on industry trends.

  • Challengers. Palo Alto Networks and Fortinet are prominent challengers. Their strong product capabilities, customer base, and growth potential make them significant players to watch in the coming years.

  • Visionaries. Cato Networks and Versa Networks have consistently demonstrated forward-thinking strategies, developing innovative and powerful solutions that often lead the way in the industry.

  • Niche players. Vendors such as Barracuda Networks and Sophos excel in their specific niche, providing unique solutions for certain segments of the SSE market.

Although Gartner’s Magic Quadrant provides a concentrated overview of the most distinct vendors on the market, it also has information on all products of this specific technology market, just like NordLayer’s and its alternatives’ positions in Security Service Edge market.

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 applications) 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 Security Service Edge 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 Security Service Edge platform market indicates a continuous need for consistent, efficient, and straightforward data security and access to the web and private applications.

Keeping in mind that SSE is a security subset of the security 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 Secure Access Service Edge 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 enabling the Security Service Edge. Its security policies deny 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, Zero Trust Network Access 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 security 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 Security Service Edge only started revealing its potential for enabling an uncomplicated and approachable secure remote access standard for businesses. The framework - a collection of the core capabilities 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 implementation of SaaS applications 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 security and ZTNA integrations in your company’s digital transformation. Easily enable traffic encryption, reduced-latency connections, and secure access control distribution for your remote teams — reach out to our team to learn more.

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