Demystifying the buzzwords: SASE and SSE markets set for solid growth in 2023 

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SASE, SSE, or something else? The backstory for each of these buzzwords is as complex as the technology itself. The simple version is that, as enterprises need to modernise their network and security architecture with the demands of a remote workforce, the secure access service edge (SASE) and secure service edge (SSE) markets will see solid growth through 2023. 

That is the verdict from telecom analyst Dell’Oro Group and security vendor Axis respectively. Dell’Oro believes that the overall SASE market will grow to $8 billion (£6.45bn) for the full year 2023. Meanwhile, a study from Axis – in partnership with Cybersecurity Insiders – found two-thirds (65%) of organisations polled plan to adopt an SSE platform within two years.  

SASE, broadly, describes the delivery of WAN controls as a service directly to the source of connection – be that a user, IoT device, or edge computing location – as opposed to a data centre. Gartner, who coined the term, defines it as delivering “converged network and security as a service capabilities… primarily delivered as a service and enables Zero Trust access based on the identity of the device or entity, combined with real-time context and security and compliance policies.”  

One of the capabilities which fall under the SASE umbrella is SD-WAN (software-defined wide area networking). SASE can be seen as an evolution of the more established SD-WAN as it consolidates the networking technology to deploy security as a service in the cloud. Alongside the latency benefits, this deployment is much more viable for an organisation’s remote workforce and cloud-based infrastructure. 

Where SSE (secure service edge) comes in, also penned by Gartner, is as a subset of SASE functionality focused more on security capabilities rather than network connectivity and architecture. In short, it removes the SD-WAN element. Cloudflare noted in June that it can be a ‘common stepping stone to a full SASE deployment, which extends SSE security controls to the corporate WAN and includes software-defined networking capabilities such as traffic shaping and quality of service.’  

The Axis research, which polled 355 cybersecurity professionals on migrating from legacy access solutions in light of the new hybrid workplace, found that 71% of respondents were now familiar with SSE. 43% of those polled planned on implementing a solution by the end of 2023. 

Axis noted that 2023 will see SSE ‘quickly become a top strategic initiative for organisations as it plays a major role in SASE adoption.’ Two-thirds of those polled (67%) said they will begin their SASE strategy with an SSE implementation, as opposed to SD-WAN (33%), echoing the Cloudflare prediction. The position of Dell’Oro is similar; research director Mauricio Sanchez told SDxCentral that enterprises will continue to prioritise the security aspect of SASE but ‘slow down the networking side as economic pressure increases.’ 

Dell’Oro outlined this trend in more detail last month in its 3Q 2022 SASE & SD-WAN quarterly report. SSE, or SASE security, saw a tenth consecutive quarter of sequential revenue expansion, while SASE networking, ‘synonymous with SD-WAN’, has a challenging quarter based on a year-on-year comparison of a ‘very strong’ Q3 2021. While the SD-WAN market should expect continued growth, there will be ‘some level of modulation’, as Sanchez put it. 

In terms of where organisations need to start with SSE, Axis notes that almost 50% have started by securing access for their remote and hybrid employees. “Given the mass adoption of hybrid work, this is a logical starting point for the businesses,” the company added. 

Ultimately, as Jason Clark, chief strategy officer at Netskope writes for Forbes Technology Council, the SSE market is the ‘biggest change security people have seen in over a decade.’ SASE is being turned to because it’s ‘the architecture for today that also sets up the next 30 years of networking and security.’ Organisations will be left behind if they don’t wise up. The wise money is to look at SSE first – and a study such as Axis Security’s notes the first steps and pain points. 

You can read the full Axis report here (email required). 

(Photo by Isaac Smith on Unsplash)

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