Netskope named a Leader in the 2022 Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for Security Service Edge. Get the Report.

  • Platform

    Unrivaled visibility and real-time data and threat protection on the world's largest security private cloud.

  • Products

    Netskope products are built on the Netskope Security Cloud.

Netskope delivers a modern cloud security stack, with unified capabilities for data and threat protection, plus secure private access.

Explore our platform

Netskope Named a Leader in the 2022 Gartner Magic Quadrant™ for SSE Report

Get the report

Make the move to market-leading cloud security services with minimal latency and high reliability.

Learn more

Prevent threats that often evade other security solutions using a single-pass SSE framework.

Learn more

Zero trust solutions for SSE and SASE deployments

Learn more

Netskope enables a safe, cloud-smart, and fast journey to adopt cloud services, apps, and public cloud infrastructure.

Learn more
  • Customer Success

    Secure your digital transformation journey and make the most of your cloud, web, and private applications.

  • Customer Support

    Proactive support and engagement to optimize your Netskope environment and accelerate your success.

  • Training and Certification

    Netskope training will help you become a cloud security expert.

Trust Netskope to help you address evolving threats, new risks, technology shifts, organizational and network changes, and new regulatory requirements.

Learn more

We have qualified engineers worldwide, with diverse backgrounds in cloud security, networking, virtualization, content delivery, and software development, ready to give you timely, high-quality technical assistance.

Learn more

Secure your digital transformation journey and make the most of your cloud, web, and private applications with Netskope training.

Learn more
  • Resources

    Learn more about how Netskope can help you secure your journey to the cloud.

  • Blog

    Learn how Netskope enables security and networking transformation through security service edge (SSE).

  • Events & Workshops

    Stay ahead of the latest security trends and connect with your peers.

  • Security Defined

    Everything you need to know in our cybersecurity encyclopedia.

Security Visionaries Podcast

Bonus Episode: The Importance of Security Service Edge (SSE)

Play the podcast

Read the latest on how Netskope can enable the Zero Trust and SASE journey through security service edge (SSE) capabilities.

Read the blog

Netskope at RSA 2022

Meet and speak with Netskope security specialists at RSA.

Learn more

What is Security Service Edge?

Explore the security side of SASE, the future of network and protection in the cloud.

Learn more
  • Company

    We help you stay ahead of cloud, data, and network security challenges.

  • Why Netskope

    Cloud transformation and work from anywhere have changed how security needs to work.

  • Leadership

    Our leadership team is fiercely committed to doing everything it takes to make our customers successful.

  • Partners

    We partner with security leaders to help you secure your journey to the cloud.

Netskope enables the future of work.

Find out more

Netskope is redefining cloud, data, and network security to help organizations apply Zero Trust principles to protect data.

Learn more

Thinkers, builders, dreamers, innovators. Together, we deliver cutting-edge cloud security solutions to help our customers protect their data and people.

Meet our team

Netskope’s partner-centric go-to-market strategy enables our partners to maximize their growth and profitability while transforming enterprise security.

Learn more
Blog Full Skope, Security Service Edge The Business Value of Security Service Edge (SSE) and the SASE and Zero Trust Journey
Mar 23 2022

The Business Value of Security Service Edge (SSE) and the SASE and Zero Trust Journey

I’m not big on acronyms or buzzwords. Like many executives, my eyes glaze over when I’m being prospected with an alphabet soup of technology terms I supposedly “need” to care about. 

So why, then, does the title of this article include Security Service Edge (SSE), Secure Access Service Edge (SASE), and Zero Trust? Despite our justified disdain for acronyms, the ideas behind these terms hold genuine importance for business leaders. In the rush (by technology vendors and analysts) to over-market these terms, we are confusing the message and obscuring their business value. 

Simply put: if I’m a business leader, particularly a non-technical business leader, why on earth do I care what SSE, SASE, and Zero Trust mean?

I’ll tell you. As enterprises, we built our IT environments around two tenets: 1.) people working in offices, and 2.) applications and data living in data centers. Neither of those continues to be true, and the pandemic has been a catalyst for even faster evolution. Changing how we secure people working productively from anywhere is a journey security leaders have already started, and there’s much work still to be done. 

But this journey is worth it. It will improve agility in how you go to market. It will secure your most important assets, people and data, everywhere they are. It will also mean breaking down organizational silos to help your people work more closely together, cross-functionally, than they ever have before. It means making cybersecurity a responsibility for everyone involved.

This journey will also help organizations save money. Traditional security investments are typically funded by cost avoidance, in the form of reputational and monetary costs of a breach or a ransomware attack. Unlike the incremental funding of these traditional security investments, organizations can succeed in their SSE journey by using the savings from consolidating point solutions and existing security products, reducing network and connectivity costs, and simplifying operations by consolidating teams and redeploying resources and people towards other needs within the organizations.

SSE, SASE, and Zero Trust are confusing terms, but when understood correctly, the ideas in them are an elegant way of explaining this journey, which is now completely necessary for every company in the world. 

Where we’ve arrived and where we’re headed

SASE is an architecture—a design for converging formerly separate security and networking functions in a way that maximizes the value and utility of the cloud. SSE is the set of security services that securely enable that SASE architecture. Zero Trust is a set of principles that help guide our journey and for implementing SSE within a SASE architecture. But before we get into these ideas, first, let’s look at what’s brought us to the present state of technology and the need for evolving how we deliver security.

People are working from anywhere on any device. This trend was further accelerated by the global pandemic when every company shifted to remote work or a hybrid workforce. Pre-pandemic, our environments weren’t keeping up with this shift. Post-pandemic, however, they’re even further behind and need to change even faster to catch up. 

We have more of a digitally-native workforce every day. Want to know what the Number One language people learning in the world is right now, spoken or coded? Python. We can’t tell our digital natives they can’t solve problems using technology. Googling answers to problems is hard-wired into their brains at this point, and they develop solutions to problems using what they find in those searches. Sometimes those solutions are SaaS applications. If our employees grab a free SaaS application to successfully keep themselves productive, we often call that shadow IT. But as the CIO of a Tier 1 auto-supplier recently told me, recalling something their own CEO said, that’s not “shadow IT” … it’s business IT. It’s using the technology available to solve a perceived business problem, so we need to find a way to support it instead of trying to stop it. 

Company data is everywhere. To paraphrase something my friend Joan Holman, CIO of the global law firm Clark Hill, told me, all of our jewels used to be in our data center. Think of it like a castle, surrounded by a moat. But then, with the arrival of cloud and widespread working from home brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the moat dried up and everyone left the castle with all of the jewels, and we have no idea where they went. As one of my colleagues, Steve Riley, describes it, we are moving from a state of a data center to multiple centers of data. 

Threats are getting more sophisticated. You’ve heard of “omnichannel” in retail; now we have omnichannel in cybersecurity threats, from phishing attacks embedded in very realistic-looking text messages to active exploitation of misconfiguration errors and poor cloud posture management. So much of it goes back to how we protect data when it’s flowing everywhere, throughout the cloud, sometimes unchecked. To use just one well-known recent example, data is moving into public cloud cloud-based applications, and the log4j vulnerability is getting exposed in a lot of public cloud-based applications, meaning a lot of data is potentially at risk. 

DIagram of how Netskope conceptualizes SASE

The diagram above is how we conceptualize SASE at Netskope. It has a lot of words on it, but everything in this diagram solves a particular problem and has direct implications for how you translate your spend on security technology into how effectively you can manage risk, make your business more agile, and make your business more productive. The key to what we call Intelligent SSE and SASE, however, is that they go beyond all of these pieces individually to also describe how they elegantly fit together. 

Part of that fit is Zero Trust principles, which are applied through the SASE architecture to help you achieve Continuous Adaptive Trust. This is a state in which real-time access and policy controls adapt on an ongoing basis based on a number of contextual factors, including the user’s security hygiene, the devices they’re operating, the apps and distinct instances (i.e., personal or corporate) they’re accessing, the threats that are present, and the sensitivity of the data they’re attempting to access. No longer are we trusting, but verifying, as in the old days; we’re now verifying, then trusting. 

Achieving Continuous Adaptive Trust can help reduce risk and, zooming out further, a SASE architecture with SSE capabilities can help provide agility and reduce costs. To elevate this conversation beyond the level of technology, here’s how we see those business values manifest:

  • Risk, in which you protect critical assets, ensure resiliency of the systems and your business, and improve the security hygiene of your users to create better digital citizens out of your people
  • Agility, in which you improve the employee experience, increase your speed to market for new security capabilities, and make data-driven decisions with better information than ever before
  • Cost, in which you reduce total cost of ownership, achieve better operational efficiency, and take hard dollar costs out of your P&L thanks to consolidating vendors and moving network security to the cloud, so your legacy infrastructure is only accessed when absolutely necessary

There are many use cases where the benefits of this value creation would apply both short- and long-term. I’ll unpack each of these in future articles, but for now, consider:

  • M&A: How can we collaborate better and faster in a complex M&A transaction involving the combination of teams, tools, and processes? In the due diligence process, how do we assess the potential risks of an acquisition? How do we get visibility into an acquisition’s cloud environment and place better controls within it? How can we simplify access to applications and data without increasing risk, impacting user experience, waiting on hardware, while also eliminating redundant hardware and technologies? And how do we provide secure remote access without relying on hardware—which is currently feeling the heavy impact of global supply chain issues? 
  • Shadow IT: How can we connect more of our team to discuss the problems they’re trying to solve, then standardize on a solution with IT, vs. constantly chasing down and/or trying to control the “shadow IT” activities happening in silos? Remember: what we think of as “shadow IT” is really business IT—users aren’t using it to be shady, they’re using it to get things done. So, how can IT leaders better engage with users about the problems they need to solve, and potentially leverage existing investments, before they get emotionally attached to new applications that are ultimately redundant or lack the desired secure posture? 
  • Public Cloud Governance: How do we ensure other teams within our organization are developing in public cloud environments with the necessary security controls, posture, and visibility? Can we redirect our users to work in these approved public cloud environments from the beginning, so we aren’t surprised by a digital transformation project once the press release drops?
  • Real-Time Coaching: If we want to coach our users to make better real-time decisions, how do we do better than quarterly or annual security awareness training and actually enforce better behavior in real-time? Can we redirect them to the right apps and processes we want them to use and ultimately make them better digital citizens? How can we use the intelligence data from an SSE platform to make awareness training more targeted?
  • Data Protection: To use just one example of how to better protect data on the move in the cloud, how can we use AI and machine learning to prevent data exfiltration (including images, screenshots, and digital whiteboards), accidentally or maliciously? Also, how can we make sure we aren’t violating any data privacy laws or regulations?

Properly configured SSE and SASE directly contribute to all of the above outcomes and allow you to solve business-level problems without buying “more” or forcing your old infrastructure onto needs it was never designed for. 

No matter how you approach these SSE and SASE conversations with your team, underscore the idea of a journey with long-term impact. You’re asking often-skeptical stakeholders to partner with you on that journey. You don’t get there by spewing acronyms. You do get there by highlighting the business value within each of these concepts and showing how all the pieces can fit tightly together. 

Connect with me on LinkedIn and let me know how you’d explain SSE or SASE in business strategy terms. 

If you’re curious about what security trends are on the horizon for 2022, especially around SSE, download a copy of the Gartner Predicts 2022 report.

author image
About the author
Mike Anderson brings over 20 years of experience to his role as Chief Digital and Information Officer for Netskope, having built and led high-performing teams across a wide range of disciplines, including sales, operations, business development, and information technology.
Mike Anderson brings over 20 years of experience to his role as Chief Digital and Information Officer for Netskope, having built and led high-performing teams across a wide range of disciplines, including sales, operations, business development, and information technology.