What’s the difference between SASE, SD-WAN and SSE?

Issue 5 2022 IT infrastructure

Mandy Duncan.

When it comes to the wide area network (WAN), the letter ‘S’ plays a pivotal role – from SASE to SD-WAN to SSE – but there can be some confusion with so many WAN ‘S’ acronyms.

Believe it or not, the term Software-defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) was first introduced back in 2014, practically ancient history when it comes to networking at the edge. It’s now well recognised and increasingly adopted as the cloud-first way to transform WAN architecture, improving application performance, enabling more efficient connectivity and reducing network complexity.

Secure Access Service Edge, known as SASE, describes the cloud-first architecture for both WAN and security functions, all delivered and managed in the cloud. In short, SASE is a blend of SD-WAN and cloud-delivered security.

Security Service Edge (SSE), the youngest of the ‘S’ acronyms, was first described in 2021 and again this year as part of the Gartner Magic Quadrant for SSE. As defined by Gartner, Security Service Edge secures access to the web, cloud services and private applications. Capabilities include access control, threat protection, data security, security monitoring and acceptable-use control. SSE is primarily delivered as a cloud-based service and may include on-premises or agent-based components.

SASE as a maths equation

Earlier, SASE was described as a combination of SD-WAN and cloud-delivered security, but more specifically, it describes supporting advanced WAN edge networking functions and advanced security services, primarily delivered in the cloud.

As a maths equation, it looks something like this: SASE = SD-WAN + SSE

Why the ‘S’ acronyms?

At their core, the ‘S’ acronyms of SASE, SD-WAN and SSE mean the transformation of the network and security architectures into tangible business outcomes. Over the years, Aruba has helped hundreds of customers transform legacy networks via the SASE journey, creating incremental business value realised through the automated integration of advanced SD-WAN and industry-leading SSE solutions to create an SASE architecture that doesn’t compromise on either networking functionality or security services.

An effective SASE architecture entails a number of advantages:

• Users enjoy the best cloud application experience and quality, which translates into increased productivity, customer satisfaction and, most notably, business profitability.

• Reduced business risk and more effective and consistent policy enforcement across the entire enterprise, protecting employees, customers, partners and ultimately the brand image.

• With a simplified WAN architecture, the organisation can decrease capital and operational cost via a centralised network and security management, all the while eliminating the cumbersome backhaul of cloud-destined traffic across expensive leased-line circuits.

• Enterprises realise the highest return on existing and developing cloud investments.

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