SSE vs. SASE: Which One is Right for Your Business?


Security service edge (SSE) and secure access service edge (SASE) are designed to cater to the evolving needs of modern enterprises that are increasingly adopting cloud services and supporting remote workforces. While SASE encompasses the same security features as SSE in addition to software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) capabilities, both offer numerous benefits over traditional IT security solutions.

The question is: which one is right for your business?

Head-to-Head SSE vs. SASE

The key differences between SSE and SASE primarily revolve around their scope and focus within the IT security and network architecture landscape.

Target Audience

  • SSE is particularly appealing to organizations that prioritize security over networking or have specific security needs that can be addressed without modifying their network architecture.
  • SASE is aimed at organizations seeking a unified approach to managing both their network and security needs, especially those with complex, distributed environments.

Design Philosophy

  • SSE is designed with a security-first approach, prioritizing cloud-centric security services to protect users and data regardless of location. It is particularly focused on securing access to the web, cloud services, and private applications.
  • SASE is designed to provide both secure and optimized network access, addressing the needs of modern enterprises with distributed workforces and cloud-based resources. It aims to simplify and consolidate network and security infrastructure.

Scope and Focus

  • SSE is a subset of SASE that focuses exclusively on security services. It integrates various security functions, such as cloud access security broker (CASB), firewall as a service (FWaaS), secure web gateway (SWG), zero-trust network access (ZTNA), and other security functions into a unified platform.
  • SASE combines both networking and security services in a single, cloud-delivered service model. It includes the same security functions as SSE but also incorporates networking capabilities like SD-WAN, WAN optimization, and quality of service (QoS).

Connectivity

  • SSE does not include SD-WAN or other networking functions, focusing instead on security aspects. It is ideal for organizations that either do not require advanced networking capabilities or have already invested in SD-WAN separately.
  • SASE includes SD-WAN and other networking functions as part of its offering, providing a comprehensive solution for both connectivity and security. This makes it suitable for organizations looking to consolidate their network and security infrastructure into a single platform.

Implementation Considerations

  • SSE can be a strategic choice for organizations looking to enhance their security posture without overhauling their existing network infrastructure. It allows for a phased approach to adopting cloud-based security services.
  • SASE represents a more holistic transformation, requiring organizations to integrate their networking and security strategies. It is well-suited for enterprises undergoing digital transformation and seeking to streamline their IT operations.

In summary, the choice between SSE and SASE depends on an organization’s specific needs. SSE offers a focused, security-centric solution, while SASE provides a comprehensive, integrated approach to both networking and security.

Pros and Cons of SSE and SASE

While cloud-based security solutions like SSE and SASE have been gaining traction as organizations move toward more cloud-centric, flexible, and remote-friendly IT environments, each has pros and cons.

Pros of SSE and SASE

Enhanced Security

  • SSE provides a unified platform for various security services like SWG, CASB, ZTNA, and FWaaS, which can improve an organization’s security posture by offering consistent protection across all users and data, regardless of location.
  • SASE combines networking and security into a single cloud service, which can lead to better security outcomes due to integrated traffic inspection and security policy implementation.

Scalability and Flexibility

  • Both SSE and SASE offer scalable security solutions that can adapt to changing business needs and accommodate growth without the need for significant infrastructure investment.

Simplified Management

  • SSE simplifies the management of security services by consolidating them into a single platform, reducing complexity and operational expenses.
  • SASE reduces the complexity of managing separate networking and security products by bringing them under one umbrella.

Improved Performance

  • SSE can improve user experience by providing faster and more efficient connectivity to web, cloud, and private applications.
  • SASE often leads to better network performance due to its built-in private backbone and optimization features.

Cost Savings

  • Both SSE and SASE can lead to cost savings by minimizing the need for multiple security and networking products and reducing the overhead associated with maintaining traditional hardware.

Cons of SSE and SASE

Security Risks

  • SSE may not account for the unique needs of application security for SaaS versus infrastructure as a service (IaaS), potentially leaving some attack surfaces unprotected.
  • SASE adoption may involve trade-offs between security and usability, potentially increasing the attack surface if security policies are relaxed.

Performance Issues

  • Some SSE solutions may introduce latency if they require backhauling data to a centralized point.
  • SASE may have performance issues if not properly configured or if the network is not tuned to work with cloud-native technologies.

Implementation Challenges

  • SSE can be complex to implement, especially for organizations with established centralized network security models.
  • SASE may involve significant changes to traditional infrastructure, which can disrupt productivity and collaboration during the transition.

Data Privacy and Compliance

  • SSE must ensure data privacy and compliance with country and regional industry regulations, which can be challenging for some providers.
  • SASE may introduce new challenges in compliance and data management due to the distribution of corporate data across external connections and cloud providers.

Dependency on Cloud Providers

  • Both SSE and SASE increase dependency on cloud providers, which can affect control over data and systems.

Vendor Lock-In

  • SSE could further confuse some who initially believe it is something separate from SASE, leading to potential vendor lock-in.
  • With SASE, there’s a risk of single provider lock-in, which may not be suitable for businesses requiring advanced IT security functionality.

While both SSE and SASE offer numerous benefits, they also present numerous challenges. Organizations must carefully weigh these factors to determine whether SSE or SASE aligns with their specific needs and strategic goals.

Key Considerations When Choosing Between SSE and SASE

When choosing between SSE and SASE, organizations must consider a variety of factors that align with their specific requirements, existing network infrastructure, and strategic objectives.

Organizational Security Needs

  • SSE is ideal for organizations prioritizing security services embedded within their network architecture, especially those in sectors like finance, government, and healthcare, where stringent security is paramount.
  • SASE is suitable for organizations seeking an all-encompassing solution that integrates networking and security services. It provides secure access across various locations and devices, tailored for a remote workforce.

Security vs. Network Priorities

  • If security is the top priority, SSE provides a comprehensive set of security services for cloud applications and services.
  • If network performance and scalability need to be improved, SASE may be the better option.

Support for Remote Workers and Branch Offices

  • SSE is often integrated with on-premises infrastructure and may be better suited for organizations looking to strengthen network security at the edge.
  • SASE is often a cloud-native solution with global points of presence, making it ideal for enterprises seeking to simplify network architecture, especially for remote users and branch offices.

Cloud-Native Solution vs. Network Infrastructure Security

  • SSE is deployed near data origin and emphasizes strong load balancing and content caching with firewalls or intrusion prevention systems.
  • SASE enables secure, anywhere access to cloud applications, integrating various network and security functions for a streamlined approach.

Existing Network Infrastructure

  • Organizations with complex or legacy network infrastructures may find SASE a better choice, as it can provide a more gradual path to migration.
  • For cloud-native organizations or those with simpler network needs, SSE may be more appropriate.

Vendor Architecture and SLAs

  • Ensure the chosen SSE vendor has strong service-level agreements (SLAs) and a track record of inspecting inline traffic for large global enterprises.
  • For SASE, a single-vendor approach can simplify management and enhance performance by optimizing the flow of traffic between users, applications, and the cloud.

Flexibility and Scalability

  • SSE should be flexible and scalable to address enterprise needs without sacrificing function, stability, and protection.
  • SASE should be adaptable to dynamic business needs and offer a roadmap that aligns with IT initiatives and business goals.

Budget Considerations

  • SASE solutions are typically more expensive up front but can offer significant cost savings in the long run by eliminating the need for multiple security appliances and tools.
  • SSE might be a more cost-effective option for organizations that do not require the full suite of networking services included in SASE.

Transition Path to SASE

  • SSE can serve as a stepping stone in the transition from traditional on-premises security to cloud-based security architecture, providing a clear path to SASE when the organization is ready.

Consultation with Experts

  • It is advisable to consult with network security experts to assess needs and requirements before recommending the best solution for the organization.

Next Steps

In summary, the choice between SSE and SASE depends on an organization’s specific needs. While SSE offers a focused, security-centric solution, SASE provides a comprehensive, integrated approach to both networking and security.

Take the time to make a thorough assessment of your organization’s needs before deciding which route to take. Once that’s done, you can create a vendor shortlist using our GigaOm Key Criteria and Radar reports for SSE and/or SASE.

These reports provide a comprehensive overview of the market, outline the criteria you’ll want to consider in a purchase decision, and evaluate how a number of vendors perform against those decision criteria.

If you’re not yet a GigaOm subscriber, you can access the research using a free trial.





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