Two important shifts over the last two years transformed what we once knew as an on-premise ecosystem into a global system accessible from anywhere.
One is remote work, which began as a temporary measure to get us through the early days of the pandemic and has since become the norm. According to Buffer’s State of Remote Work report, 72% of respondents said their company plans on having a permanent remote work option, up from 46% in 2021’s survey.
The other is cloud adoption, which was mainstream even before the pandemic, but has seen another bump in the last two years. According to an O’Reilly survey, roughly 90% of respondents are now using the cloud.
In parallel, 5G and fiber became widely available and enabled a revolution of the way we work. As a result, the internet has become the new corporate network.
Over the next 10 years, we will see companies continue to replace their on-premises network and security appliances with a secured corporate network over the internet. It already started with modern, cloud-centric, and mobile-first companies and will continue to expand toward legacy enterprises.
The demand for remote access solutions like virtual private networks (VPNs) and zero trust network access (ZTNA) tools took off in the early days of the pandemic and are here to stay. With users logging on from anywhere and applications no longer necessarily inside the office, the concept of the corporate network fundamentally changed, expanding beyond the buildings the company owns or rents. It’s now available anywhere there’s an internet connection. Remote is the new standard.
This change has had a trickle-down effect on the cybersecurity concept known as secure access server edge (SASE). This model is software based – rather than hardware based – and allows companies to secure all of their organization’s networks and users in an agile, cost-effective, and scalable way.
SASE has three main use cases: Remote access using ZTNA, internet security through secure web gateways (SWGs) and cloud access security brokers (CASBs), and interconnectivity using software-defined wide area networks (SD-WANs).
Let’s explore that third use case and how it’s changing as the internet emerges as the new corporate network.
New infrastructure is changing the game
Fiber-optic broadband and 5G are coming of age, bringing the fastest internet speeds to more locations and making it easier for employees to work from anywhere.
According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), fiber infrastructure makes up 32% of fixed broadband subscriptions across the OECD’s 38 member countries, up from 12% a decade ago. The Fiber Broadband Association says fiber is available in 43% of U.S. households and 60% of Canadian households. And 5G is rolling out so rapidly that Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA) says networks are likely to cover one-third of the world’s population by 2025.
This infrastructure supports public internet and allows the growth and adoption of corporate networks as they branch out to be available anywhere. As a result, we will see a declining need for SD-WAN solutions that provide optimization and quality of service to effectively connect branches and offices.
As the internet matures, and the need to optimize network traffic decreases,companies will be able to utilize standard and simplified edge devices to create interconnectivity among offices or branches over the internet. With remote work here to stay, there are fewer people in those branches to begin with so companies don’t need to invest in quality of service because there is no bandwidth issue.
We have already seen efficiency as a business driver for cloud decision-makers. According to the Flexera 2022 State of the Cloud Report survey, savings was ranked the top metric (74%) that organizations use to measure cloud progress. The same motivation will be at the core of internal connectivity in the future.
What this means for SASE
ZTNA is a common starting point for building out SASE architecture. It supports remote work and introduces a new level of security that wasn’t possible using a VPN.
The remote access and internet security use cases will dominate SASE’s evolution as the need for interconnectivity decreases. The table has already been set by the trends established over the last two years.
Cybersecurity has become a bigger priority for most organizations — 77% plan to increase their investments this year, according to ConnectWise’s State Of SMB Cybersecurity report. With the corporate network looking much different than it once did, security will need to adjust accordingly.
SASE can be the key to companies’ success as their operations grow increasingly remote, but interconnectivity won’t be part of that equation. SASE’s future is about securing corporate networks over the internet.