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SASE, SSE, SDWAN – What the what, now?

By Andrew Lerner | April 05, 2022 | 0 Comments

SecurityIn the news

There is a lot of hype recently around SASE and SSE. Some have even gone so far as to say SD-WAN is just baggage. We are getting client questions like: Does SASE replace SD-WAN?, and Does SSE mean that SASE is dead?. So, I’m hoping to set the record straight…

Question: What’s going on with SDWAN, SASE and SSE, and why the heck are there 3 separate terms?  

TLDR/Simple answer:  There are 3 terms because there are separate buying patterns. SDWAN is not dead, and SSE doesn’t replace SASE. 

Longer Answer: We take a large number of interactions with clients that are interested in each of these 3 initiatives:

  1. Branch modernization and branch transformation projects, where they need a new and improved branch router. This is SD-WAN.
  2. Cloud-security to bolster user security. This includes cloud-based security products such as SWG, CASB and ZTNA. These products are blurring/converging. This is SSE.
  3. We observe forward-leaning clients (and smaller clients) who just want 1 console/service to handle network and security (branch connectivity, remote user, cloud security) from one or two explicitly partnered vendors. This is SASE.

In the automotive market, there are sedans, station wagons, pickup trucks (full/half ton), hatchbacks, SUVs, crossover’s, etc. They’re all automobiles, and they’ll all get you to a destination. But the buying patterns are different. I’d rather have a sedan and a pickup versus two SUVs (don’t want mulch in my SUV). My neighbor prefers 2 SUVs (doesn’t want to have to switch vehicles). Walter White prefers a Pontiac Aztek… While tempting, replacing an 8 passenger SUV with an electric five seater due to high gas prices is a short term fix, but waiting a few years for electric car prices to fall and more options to emerge may result in a better long term outcome. 

Buying patterns are messy. Enterprises buy at different times, with different priorities. Refresh cycles are mismatched. Buyers who pursue SD-WAN or SSE independently can technically integrate them, but may be missing out on the promise of the SASE framework:  Integrated networking and security converging.  

SASE, SD-WAN and SSE are and will remain relevant. Thus, to best serve clients, we write research to match their buying journey.  Here are links to more in-depth research on these topics (paywall).


Andrew Lerner and John Watts




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