Security Requires Speed

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For as long as anyone can remember, organizations have had to balance 4 key areas when it comes to technology: security efficacy, cost, complexity, and user experience. The emergence of SASE and SSE brings new hope to be able to deliver fully in each of these areas, eliminating compromise; but not all architectures are truly up to the task.

SASE represents the convergence of networking and security, with SSE being a stepping-stone to a complete single-vendor platform. The right architecture is essential to providing an experience that aligns with the expectations of modern workers while delivering effective security at scale. Here are a few things to consider when exploring SASE and SSE vendors:

PoP Presence

Marketing claims aside, you should consider how many unique geographic locations can provide all capabilities to your user base as well as how effective the organization has been at adding and scaling new PoPs. These PoPs should be hosted in top-tier data centers and not rely on the footprint of a public cloud provider.

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Global Private Backbone

Cloud and mobile adoption are still on the rise but create challenges as users and apps are no longer in fixed locations. The public Internet routes traffic in favor of cost savings for the ISP without consideration for performance. While peering is also a key factor in achieving strong performance, a true global private backbone is critical to any SASE or SSE product and should provide value to both Internet-bound and WAN traffic. Customers should be able to control the routing of their traffic across this backbone to egress traffic as close to the destination as possible.

Network Optimization

QoS has been around for more than 20 years and is useful to ensure that critical applications have enough available bandwidth, but QoS does not do anything to improve performance beyond this. When evaluating a provider, look for networking optimization capabilities such as TCP proxy and packet-loss mitigation that will improve the overall user experience.

At Cato Networks, we were founded to deliver on the vision of a true SASE solution, converging networking and security to eliminate compromise and create simple, secure connectivity with performance. Recently we conducted a performance test for one of our customers comparing Cato’s SASE cloud to Zscaler Private Access and the results are impressive.

For the test, several files were transferred from the customer’s file share in London to an endpoint in Tokyo. Even for files only 100MB in size, the performance improvement is substantial. It’s also worth noting that ZPA doesn’t inspect traffic for threats, and despite Cato’s complete zero-trust approach to WAN traffic, with all inspection engines active, Cato’s SASE cloud was able to achieve up to a 317% improvement in performance.

SASE and SSE vendors deliver critical capabilities to organizations and should be carefully evaluated before adoption. While performance is one of many factors to consider, I urge IT and Security leaders not to make it the lowest priority. After all, users are doing their best to be productive and high-performers will naturally look for ways to bypass obstacles that are slowing them down. Just remember… fast is secure, secure is fast.

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