Keys to operational efficiency in the SASE enterprise
by Paul Davenport Paul Davenport on

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By October 2021, there had been more data breaches reported in the United States than during the entirety of 2020, with more victims reported in Q3 2021 than Q1 and Q2 of 2020 combined.

With data theft on an upward trajectory at the same time that much of the global workforce is undergoing a hybrid work transformation, it’s incumbent on network and IT teams to ensure that facilitating flexible work isn’t leaving their organizations vulnerable.

Executing this successfully requires new strategies (if not new tools) that acknowledge the realities of a distributed, work-from-anywhere enterprise. In particular, solutions that can help make network performance more consistent and secure—regardless of where users log on—will continue to be critical as hybrid workflows become permanent.

Combining key network performance and security strategies

Of course, solutions like VPN and SD-WAN aren’t altogether new tools in a network management team’s kit, but their deployment alongside edge and security solutions (ie. SWGs and web proxies) are unlocking new value. In concert, these tools create what’s called a Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) architecture, which can help define permissions and network pathways to business critical workflows opposed to direct internet access (DIA).

Because there isn’t one single technology involved in delivering SASE, IT teams require visibility between each stakeholder in the SASE ecosystem to ensure that all network management and security solutions are working synchronously.

But deploying an underlying infrastructure that emphasizes the best-of-breed SASE principles doesn’t, on its own, ensure optimal network performance or security.

Defining, and monitoring, better remote policies

In the context of work-from-home, especially, there’s a device-level risk that needs to be considered on many fronts that puts the emphasis on policy over infrastructure. In a recent survey from Hewlett Packard, 69 percent of office workers have admitted to leveraging personal devices to access corporate networks and data. To that end, 51 percent of enterprise IT leaders polled in the same survey reported evidence of compromised laptops last year.

Another factor is holding remote users to task when they are in violation of security best practices. For many younger workers, some security practices are roadblocks to productivity, the HP report found, as roughly a third of employees aged 18-24 have admitted to attempting to circumvent security in 2021. As a result, “shadow IT” practices remain fairly common and may be creating entirely new headaches as IT teams work to remediate.

The cost of all this bad behavior? A 52 percent increase in IT support spend in 2021, as IT teams that are already stretched thin today balance continual remediation efforts alongside the network transformations that for many companies wanted completed yesterday.

Visibility is the lynchpin

While IT teams don’t want to police employees or partners, they need comprehensive visibility into the entire network supporting their remote workforce for the latest SASE tools to work together successfully in the face of a work-from-anywhere future. Similarly, they need to be sure they have device-level visibility into performance so that when users are having issues with remote access—regardless of whether it’s due to poor security, bad behavior, or even just bad hardware—IT teams don’t have to waste time getting to the root of the problem.

With so many factors outside of IT’s control when it comes to ensuring an optimal and secure digital experience, they need to leverage solutions that grant visibility end-to-end for every user connection so that constantly chipping away at individual performance issues doesn’t derail larger, business-critical initiatives.

With the technological underpinning of a SASE architecture, combined with the visibility to continuously monitor the performance of all end-users and network stakeholders, IT teams can remain efficient and effective no matter what the future of work looks like.

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Filed Under: Industry Insights

Tags: observability , visbility , MTTI , work from anywhere , hybrid work , remote work , VPN , SDN , DIA , SD WAN , proxies , edge , swg , network security , network performance monitoring , network monitoring , network management , security , SASE

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