Best practices for building a single-vendor SASE solution

Over the past three or four years, the industry has been abuzz with the concept of delivering converged security and networking features via the cloud. Secure Access Service Edge combines networking solutions like SD-WAN with cloud-delivered security like firewall as a service (FWaaS), cloud access security broker(CASB), and secure web gateway (SWG). But even with all the hype, most considered SASE as something to put into practice in the future.

Then came the pandemic, and an unprecedented number of new network edges and remote employees popped up overnight. SASE quickly went from concept to reality as organizations worked to support this massive shift in how they did business with the need to protect users and data on-premises, at the edge, and in the cloud. 

Because SASE touches so many elements of security and networking, most enterprises use multiple vendors and point products to build a solution. But it’s challenging for products from different vendors to work together cohesively, and even if organizations build costly work arounds to try to make a solution work, the end result often suffers from lack of visibility, limited control, and inconsistent security.  

As vendors started to recognize this problem, they began offering single-vendor SASE, which is a complete SASE solution from one vendor. This approach simplifies deployment and ensures that security policies are applied across the entire environment. But implementing single-vendor SASE can be a daunting task, especially if an organization is already using various solutions from various vendors. It’s unrealistic to rip and replace all point products at the same time to deploy a single-vendor SASE solution. Not only would this option be expensive, it also would strain IT teams, upset users, and leave networks exposed. 

Building a single-vendor SASE solution doesn’t have to be complicated or rushed. Organizations can leverage several best practices to both build an offering that makes sense for their unique environment and improve their business outcomes at the same time.  

What is SASE? 

Before we dive into best practices, let’s define SASE. It consists of two elements: 

Networking solutions: SD-WAN, WAN optimization, routing, and content delivery 

Cloud-delivered security services: FWaaS, SWG, cloud access security broker (CASB), and zero-trust network access (ZTNA) 

By converging networking solutions with cloud-delivered security services, organizations can secure all edges and offer a seamless experience. For users, accessing the internet, corporate applications, or cloud-based applications works the same way whether they’re working from headquarters, a branch office, or their dining room table.   

Best Practices for Building Single-Vendor SASE

Have the right mindset 
Migrating to a single-vendor solution won’t happen overnight. Before you put pen to paper or draw up new vendor agreements, understand that implementing a single-vendor SASE solution is a journey. The steps and timelines will depend on your unique environment, team, and budget.  

Understand your needs 
Networks have changed so much in the past several years, it’s understandable if IT teams don’t have an enterprise-wide understanding of the environment. But mapping your organization’s needs, the current solutions in place, and team responsibilities will help you build a comprehensive plan.  

Selecting the right vendor 
After you understand your needs, the next step is selecting a single-vendor SASE vendor. Your single-vendor SASE solution should be flexible enough to integrate with all other security solutions and services within your environment, even on premises solutions in data centers. This element is often overlooked, but it’s critical to include on-premises resources as part of a unified security strategy along with your SASE solution. 

Additionally, look for a single-vendor SASE product that includes the following: 

A unified agent to streamline deployments 

A single management console to increase visibility 

Strong user access controls like ZTNA 

Cutting-edge enterprise-grade security throughout 

API integrations with a broad range of partners 

Leverage your tech renewal schedules 
One of the best times to switch vendors is when licenses are up for renewal. You’ll get the most out of your current contract and have clear due dates to align relevant teams toward.  

Weave single-vendor SASE into ongoing IT projects 
Whether it’s securing web traffic on agentless devices or protecting corporate applications within public clouds, new issues emerge for organizations every day. Companies can’t ignore these security challenges even amid a critical process like migration to a single-vendor SASE solution. In fact, they should examine top-of-mind issues and ongoing projects for ways to drive alignment with their SASE vision.  

For example, if an organization is searching for a way to secure web traffic on agentless devices, work with your single-vendor SASE vendor to make sure the new security product will integrate with your existing and planned SASE solutions. 

Test and learn 
After you migrate your first legacy product or service to your new single-vendor SASE, take a step back and review the process from beginning to end. Understand what worked and what could be improved. Assess communication, roll out, and user experience. Take what you’ve learned and apply this knowledge to your next area of migration to make the process smoother.  

Look to the future with Universal SASE 
The evolution of SASE is far from over, and at Fortinet, we believe networking and security capabilities will continue to converge into a more comprehensive solution we call Universal SASE. This enhanced offering goes beyond the networking and security functions offered in today’s SASE solutions and includes on-premises ZTNA, SD-WAN private access, and coverage for internet of things (IoT) and operational technology(OT). By keeping these capabilities in mind when assessing SASE vendors and creating your plan, you’ll increase the odds that your SASE migration will be successful.  

Converging Networking and Security with Single-Vendor SASE 

The single-vendor SASE market is projected to continue to grow, which means many companies will have to grapple with migrating to a single-vendor SASE solution. But migration doesn’t need to be cumbersome. Just keep these best practices in mind and remember that in the end, you will have consistent security, seamless user experience, and operational efficiency throughout your network, no matter where users are located.  

Learn moreabout FortiSASE and Fortinet’s ability to deliver single-vendor SASE that enables consistent security, seamless user experience, and operational efficiency across your entire distributed network.