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How a Private Cloud Approach to SASE Helped Reduce Disruption From a Severed Sub-sea Cable

Mar 29 2024

It feels like sub-sea cable disruptions are becoming ever more common, with recent reports of major outages caused by severed cables in the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, the North Sea, and—most recently—off the coast of Africa. 

This latest issue was reportedly the result of cable problems off the Ivory Coast and has resulted in widespread disruptions affecting a number of countries in the region. Mobile network operators and internet service providers were affected to varying degrees, resulting in poor connection quality for subscribers, and also impacting essential services such as banks, where some customers were unable to carry out transactions via bank apps and text. Efforts are underway to repair the damaged cables and restore full connectivity, but challenges persist. Repairing undersea cables can be a complex and time-consuming process, often requiring specialized equipment and expertise, and in the case of the West Africa cut may take five weeks to repair.

While these core pieces of infrastructure are hidden to most businesses, the economic consequences can be huge. NetBlocks estimates that Nigeria lost ₦273 billion ($593.6 million) in four days as a direct result of the disruption, underscoring the critical role that reliable internet connectivity plays in supporting economic growth and development.

This real-world situation highlights the importance of a robust internet infrastructure and the economic implications of internet outages. It also underscores the imperative to minimize the effects of such interruptions and guarantee uninterrupted connectivity for businesses and consumers worldwide, as well as the availability of critical SASE networking and security services.

Netskope NewEdge private cloud: The rationale

It was the anticipation of scenarios just like this that led to our significant investment in the Netskope NewEdge private cloud infrastructure. Because Netskope provides the gateway to the internet, cloud apps and private apps for our customers, maintaining access is critical. We take this responsibility seriously and are not satisfied to point to third-party issues as though they make connectivity disruption acceptable.

By investing in its own reliable, scalable, and high-performance infrastructure foundation (unlike vendors that rely on third-party infrastructure and public clouds), Netskope maintains complete control over the delivery of its services, is able to optimize for performance, and adapt quickly and proactively to evolving customer needs—including broader internet disruptions. 

Network adaptability in action

So, what happened to the Netskope NewEdge during the cable cuts in Africa and how was Netskope able to react based on the capabilities of its NewEdge network? Using internal SaaS app monitoring data–including observations of traffic going to top destinations like Microsoft 365 –and leveraging integrated traffic management capabilities, Netskope NewEdge had already initiated corrective actions for customers before the Africa cable cut made headlines and in some instances even before customers felt any impact. NewEdge was able to do this by prioritizing alternate routes to workaround the issue, for example, where customer policies allowed us to, we were able to redirect traffic from South Africa to Europe, bypassing the impacted region entirely. 

In addition to identifying alternate traffic paths to workaround the cable cut, the majority of Netskope users were transitioned to other in-region data centers, for instance South Africa users were moved from the Cape Town NewEdge data center to the unaffected alternative in Johannesburg. This autonomous rerouting of traffic and failout of the Cape Town data center in response ensured most customers maintained seamless access paired with optimized performance, mitigating the disruption and maintaining uninterrupted SASE service delivery.

NewEdge currently has more than 3,200 network adjacencies to over 650 unique ASNs, complementing its use of premium transit, to increase network performance, resilience and availability. In the case of the Africa cable cut, due to this extensive peering and network connectedness, users on-ramping NewEdge or getting to web, cloud, and SaaS destinations, had multiple options (or paths) for traffic to take with NewEdge, while also maintaining their security coverage. 

  • NewEdge’s Route Control enabled real-time traffic engineering to optimize for the best, lowest-latency path and route around the issues as they arose
  • NewEdge Traffic Management (which is used to ensure users/sites are always connecting to the best NewEdge data center based on lowest latency) was key to having users/sites connected to the best performing data center—and getting re-connected to the next best in just seconds, and before any impact to the users’ digital experience. 
  • Netskope’s capacity management philosophy keeps actual utilization of NewEdge data centers at very low levels at all times to ensure capacity is always available on-demand in cases of emergency, for example if traffic needs be consolidated to a single data center due to a significant disruption in the global internet infrastructure
  • NewEdge’s auto-failover capabilities ensures mitigation is instantaneous and using automation to eliminate the need for human intervention to accelerate response times, well ahead of customers reporting an incident

This real life scenario underscores the advantages of a private cloud approach, exemplified by Netskope’s unique NewEdge infrastructure. We are proud that moments like this highlight NewEdge’s global footprint, ample capacity, extensive peering, and the efficacy of proactive monitoring combined with automation to address issues before customers get impacted. This is why customers—especially networking, infrastructure, and operations leaders—are gravitating to Netskope to take advantage of running their traffic over NewEdge to support their organization’s digital transformation efforts as they embrace SASE.

Netskope has been named a Leader in The Forrester Wave™: Security Service Edge Solutions, Q1 2024. The report mentions Netskope’s NewEdge network and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities, stating, “Netskope has shown innovation across its technical stack, including significant investments in an impressive new private global network (NewEdge), artificial intelligence (dozens of models running), and generative AI (genAI) security.” The Forrester report also notes, “In general, if you have significant requirements around performance or need these advanced features, you will find that vendors that run their own networks are a better fit.”

If you are considering a Security Service Edge platform, check out our eBook: 8 Key Considerations for Networkers When Assessing Security Service Edge Platforms.

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Francisca Segovia
Francisca Segovia is Director of Marketing at Netskope, where she leads the messaging and positioning of network and Infrastructure solutions.
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Jeff Brainard
Jeff Brainard is Platform Strategy Director at Netskope, where he works in Platform Engineering and focuses on its NewEdge private cloud infrastructure. With more than 25 years of experience in product marketing, product management and sales leadership roles, Jeff has extensive experience in security and networking, spanning technologies including secure web gateways/proxies, web caching/content delivery, zero trust and software-defined networking, as well as network performance optimization.

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