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Welcome to the Future of SD-WAN — The Next Gen SASE Branch

Nov 09 2023

It’s been a long journey toward securing and optimizing the enterprise branch, from the days of rigid MPLS networks to the agile era of SD-WAN. Now comes the next stage of that journey: Secure access service edge (SASE), which, when architected correctly, converges the most important network and security capabilities into a single cloud-delivered service. Before we talk about how, though, let’s examine why SASE’s moment is now.

Today, most branch infrastructure is complex, expensive, and uses too many point products. It does not detect or prioritize tens of thousands of vital cloud apps nor does it secure you from the explosion of IoT devices and the threats they create. Further, legacy SD-WAN appliances are too thick and complicated for a remote-first world. Your IT infrastructure realistically needs to change to accommodate the needs of the modern branch office.

Legacy SD-WAN is now a roadblock to branch transformation. Let’s look at some important emerging challenges.

An explosion of cloud apps leaves a big blind spot for legacy SD-WAN

In modern business, cloud applications keep us productive and thriving, but legacy SD-WAN is now lagging far behind. In 2013, when SD-WAN was starting to make waves, it could handle just 2,500 applications at most—which, back then, was sufficient. But fast forward to today, and the average number of cloud applications in use by businesses is projected to be 72,000 by 2024, up from 21,000 in 2021. Legacy SD-WAN can’t optimize what it can’t detect and control. Then, when we recall that conventional SD-WAN optimization benefits were solely to on-premise data centers, it’s overwhelmingly evident these are not fit for a cloud-first era.

The shift to hybrid can mean a loss of productivity

With 74% of businesses embracing permanent hybrid work models, the traditional branch office is becoming a relic. Remote employees, however, often miss out on the benefits of SD-WAN. The refrain, “Turn off video for better audio,” hampers productivity, and shipping hefty SD-WAN appliances to remote locations only escalates costs. Existing remote access VPNs lack visibility and security, complicating matters further. Adding more clients for cloud security is not the answer. The crucial question remains: How to seamlessly extend the same SD-WAN and SSE capabilities in the branch office and to remote users, ensuring a consistently smooth user experience? Legacy SD-WAN doesn’t have any answers for this.

An explosion of IoT devices leaves the branch vulnerable to attacks

Smart IoT devices now proliferate, from office cameras to factory sensors. A staggering 94% of IT professionals fear the catastrophic consequences of a data breach caused by unsecured IoT devices. But traditional SD-WAN solutions fall short in meeting the robust security requirements critical for modern branches. Furthermore, the remote management of IoT devices within the branch can be a formidable challenge, frequently leading to costly truck rolls. Legacy SD-WAN infrastructure isn’t equipped to handle these elevated management and heightened security requirements.

The cost and complexity of bolted-on security drives up costs and creates management headaches

With 53% of internet traffic headed to SaaS and the public cloud, securing your users, no matter where they consume cloud services, is paramount. Surprisingly, a substantial 65% of threats now originate from the cloud. Disjointed point products, whether on-premise IPS, NGFW, IoT Security, or cloud security services like CASB and SWG, are driving up costs and complexity because they’re not well integrated and as a result are creating inconsistent, ineffective security policies between branches and remote users. Fragmented security policies are costing more than just money; they’re costing security itself. 

Rising efficiency gaps lead to burnout

Modern IT teams face significant burnout concerns, with at least 65% of help desk teams feeling overwhelmed by support operations. Legacy solutions fall short in automating tasks, leading to management inefficiencies, especially when deploying human vs. machine resources. Current WAN monitoring tools lack crucial WAN insights, complicating digital experience management. But the challenge extends to managing diverse networking solutions. Separate management consoles for SD-WAN, remote access, Wireless WAN, Multi-cloud, SWG, CASB, and DEM create data silos, hindering fast issue resolution. The key question is how to make legacy solutions more efficient and reduce operational overhead. Streamlining automation, integrating tools, and enhancing analytics are critical steps in addressing these challenges.

The branch “stack” is needlessly complicated

Adding new services to a branch invariably demands additional servers, further intensifying the intricacies involved with branch security. Legacy SD-WAN, which was once key to the dream of a more efficient branch, is now part of a nightmare of complications.

Enter Netskope Next Gen SASE Branch Hybrid, Connected, Secured, and Automated

Today, we’re pleased to announce Netskope Next-Gen SASE Branch, which enables the industry’s most complete SASE solution, converging context-aware SASE fabric, zero trust hybrid security, and Skope AI-powered Cloud Orchestrator within a single cloud delivered service for the borderless enterprise. At the core of Netskope SASE is a single pane of glass orchestrator, a global cloud network of data centers spanning 71+ regions, and a thin branch that optimizes and secures traffic from all locations and users to cloud and on-prem locations. 

The three key tenets of the Next Gen SASE Branch include:

Context-aware SASE Fabric ensures Cloud Confidence Index (CCI)-based SD-WAN optimization for 75,000 apps, offering VRF-based segmentation and advanced routing across sites.  In addition, Borderless SD-WAN available on Netskope NewEdge delivers optimized Global WAN connectivity across transcontinental branches and high performance cloud on-ramp from any branch, data center, or remote user to any SaaS, private application, or transcontinental region. Overall, this provides secure, high performance access from any branch, data center, or remote user to any SaaS or private apps, or across transcontinental regions. 

Zero Trust Hybrid Security provides cloud-based SWG, CASB, and more, alongside on-premises NGFW, IPS/IDS, and IoT security—consolidating capabilities and eliminating the need for point products. Device Intelligence integrated with Netskope SD-WAN uses AI for automated device categorization and dynamic micro-segmentation to prevent breaches. Netskope ZTNA Next further combines SD-WAN optimization and ZTNA capabilities, fully replacing legacy VPN with one unified agent. 

SkopeAI-powered Cloud Orchestrator offers a unified SASE console that combines SD-WAN and SSE for zero touch provisioning. It cuts support tickets, offers per-user SLE metrics, provides WAN anomaly detection, and enables end-to-end path visibility with SD-WAN integrated with Netskope Proactive DEM. Partner apps on Netskope SASE Gateway further eliminate extra servers in the branch. 

Deliver your Next Gen Branch Today with Netskope 

Successful, modern infrastructure means branches and remote locations enjoy the same levels of SD-WAN optimization, performance, and security everywhere. With the Next Gen SASE Branch, you can say goodbye to the complexity of traditional branch architectures and stacks of management appliances. Instead, you can embrace a new era enabled by unified SASE management, driven by SkopeAI-powered Cloud Orchestrator  and Proactive Digital Experience Management (P-DEM) to streamline operations and ensure top-notch application performance. A brighter future awaits!

To learn more, visit the Netskope Next Gen SASE Branch page, download the solution brief, or watch this video to get a more in-depth perspective.

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Parag Thakore
Parag Thakore is Senior Vice President of the Borderless WAN Business Unit at Netskope, following the acquisition of Infiot by Netskope in May 2022.

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