We compare 10 leading SASE security vendors with an overview of the market.
2020 was a boon to vendors providing the technology that enabled society’s sudden transition to a remote, online lifestyle. Chief among them was SD-WAN, which became critical for organizations needing to maintain robust connectivity for Work-From-Home (WFH) employees tethered to video conferences for much of the day.
However, organizations soon realized that once they delivered reliable baseline communications, user and data security was the next layer of their hierarchy of needs. As we mentioned in our article on domestic SD-WAN vendors, “Security is the hottest sub-segment of the SD WAN market, with the emerging SASE market, which adds security features to an SD WAN solution, expected to more than double annually over the next several years, reaching 60 percent of SD WAN deployments by 2024 according to Gartner.”
SASE interest is so intense that Gartner’s latest Hype Cycle rankings put it at the Peak of Inflated Expectations, poised for the excitement to crater as buyers realize that SASE isn’t a silver bullet for all their security problems. Nonetheless, SASE will be a critical addition to the security portfolio of the vast majority of enterprises that are permanently transformed into a work-from-anywhere organization with remote, geographically dispersed employees. Indeed, Gartner sees the number of organizations adopting SASE quadrupling to 20 percent by 2023.
SASE, namely Secure Access Service Edge, is a suite of capabilities designed for remote users, offices and devices that rides atop an SD-WAN substrate. While the concept is new, its components are not, contributing to rapid advances in the technology, product offerings and customer acceptance. It’s hard to quantify a SASE market because the terminology and means of implementing the technology are sufficiently malleable that some vendors are SASE-washing legacy network management or security products. Nonetheless, most analysts see a robust market, predicting triple-digit growth over the next few years. For example:
- Dell’Oro expects the SASE market to grow at 116 percent annually over the next five years, resulting in more than a 20-fold increase in revenues from 2020. Sales will start out primarily as SASE software bundled with hardware appliances, but will transition to a combination of software and cloud services managed by a carrier, ISP or SASE vendor.
- 650 Group is less bullish, but still predicts SASE revenue to quintuple by 2025 for a CAGR of 38 percent.
- Revenue at Zscaler, one of the few public pure-plays on cloud-based SASE products, is increasing 55 percent annually with billings up 71 percent year-over-year, numbers will make it a billion dollar company by mid-2022. Zscaler illustrates the potential for rapid expansion of SASE usage, with 5,000 customers, including 500 in Forbes’ Global 2000, and more than 20 million seats licensed accessing Zscaler’s services from one of 150 data centers worldwide.
SASE is a collection of network, user and application security technologies tailored for remote, edge locations like a branch office, retail store, warehouse or employee home. SASE can be implemented as a set of software and hardware appliances on private infrastructure, however, with organizations coping with pandemic uncertainty and lockdowns by significantly increasing the use of cloud infrastructure and applications, SASE is better consumed as a cloud-based service.
For example, SaaS collaboration tools like Slack
have been indispensable in maintaining business operations and workgroup interactions. Consequently, many enterprises have also shifted from self-hosted productivity tools, email systems and file shares to SaaS products like Office365 and GSuite.
With WFH employees and remote contractors reliant on cloud services, it makes little sense tunneling their network traffic to privately-operated SASE infrastructure only to route it back out to the Internet. Far better to direct employee traffic to a globally distributed SASE service that is often hosted in the same hyperscale data centers used by the major SaaS applications. Thus, as we detail below, most SASE vendors are either an ‘arms dealer’ selling technology to a service provider or a combination of product developer and cloud service provider.