In a recent survey by ZK Research, we found that 62% of businesses have accelerated SD-WAN plans in the past year. Similarly, SASE has seen a sharp rise in interest, although deployments are still relatively modest as organizations put their strategies in place.
I’m expecting 2021 to be a year in which we see SASE hit that “hockey stick” adoption as organizations shift from planning to deployment.
Complexity of SD-WAN and SASE gives rise to an increased in managed services
The rise of SD-WAN and SASE provides a tremendous opportunity for service providers to become a true strategic partner to their enterprise customers. Network modernization to SD-WAN and SASE holds a tremendous amount of promise as it increases network agility. It improves application performance by limiting the amount of traffic that needs to be backhauled to a data center, and makes the environment more secure and lowers overall total cost of operations.
However, shifting to this new network is more complex than with legacy networks. This is one of the reasons why 66% of respondents to a recent ZK Research study of US companies stated they would use a managed service provider for all or part of their SD-WAN / SASE deployment, up sharply from the historical 25% that use managed services for legacy network services.
This means, for service providers, their choice of technology vendor for SD-WAN and SASE is critical to capitalize on this market opportunity. The strategic value of the network has never been higher as hybrid work and digital transformation are built on network-centric technologies such as cloud, mobility and IoT. The right vendor will enable the service provider to quickly capture share while the wrong one can set the network operator back for years.
Palo Alto partners with service providers for managed services
Palo Alto Networks is one vendor that has a dedicated focus on helping its service provider partners be successful in this area. Palo Alto has long been a primary security vendor to enterprises and recently, with the acquisition of CloudGenix (now Prisma SD-WAN), it has a strong set of network products and is now bolstering its products to meet the demands of its telco customers.
As an example, Palo Alto Networks and AT&T recently announced a collaboration where AT&T is expanding its global managed SASE offering with Palo Alto Networks, bringing together SD-WAN, security capabilities and AT&T fiber-based connectivity. AT&T’s massive customer base, which includes large enterprises, as well as state and local governments, benefits. They get a single provider to help with network modernization to improve application performance and improve security and visibility.
AT&T’s cybersecurity consulting practices can provide upfront design and implementation services and the security operations centers provide day-to-day management and monitoring.
The foundational technologies for AT&T SASE with Palo Alto Networks is the combination of Palo Alto Networks’s Prisma Access cloud delivered security and Prisma SD-WAN (formerly CloudGenix). The former includes a broad set of security services, such as firewall as a service (FWaaS), secure web gateway (SWG), cloud access security broker (CASB) and zero trust network access (ZTNA), while the latter enables the use of broadband Internet connections to reduce branch WAN costs and leverages machine learning to optimize WAN performance.
The use of machine learning is key to success for many services providers. As mentioned, SD-WANs and SASE introduce more complexity into the network as there are many more factors to consider. Service Providers use the support of these technologies to work more quickly and accurately in meeting the demands of their customers, whose expectations are high as they turn over network operations to a service provider.
AT&T brings together a global network and modernized network and security
The combination of AT&T and Palo Alto Networks brings together a global, high performance network with a next generation SD-WAN and SASE solution to ensure consistent services at scale, anywhere in the world. Main benefits for customers include:
- Unified security for all users regardless of whether applications are being accessed over the Internet, in a public cloud or private cloud.
- Consistent experience for all users across devices and locations through the use of consistent policies that follow the user, wherever they go without requiring manual intervention.
- Rapid network modernization as SASE eliminates the requirement for appliances to support overlay security and networking stacks.
- Improved visibility and security as the single, cloud delivered solution provides dashboards and detailed drill downs across users and devices with fully integrated threat protection.
- Lower total cost of ownership as SASE reduces the number of vendors, tools and technology stacks. This reduces both operational and capital expenses.
SASE and SD-WAN are now top of mind for businesses of all sizes, but most companies have been slow to deploy as the complexity can be overwhelming. This is where service providers can have a big impact, as they can enable customers to quickly evolve their network while reducing risk. This is dependent on the service provider using the right vendor partner to ensure their customers business outcomes are being met.