Many people are excited about Gartner’s Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) framework and the cloud-native convergence of networks and security. While originally proposed as fully unified architecture delivering network and security capabilities, the reality soon dawned that enterprise transition to a complete SASE model would be a decade long journey due to factors such as existing investments, operational silos (customer), and vendor consolidation. Consequently, Gartner introduced a new two-vendor approach to SASE that brought together a highly converged WAN Edge Infrastructure platform alongside a highly converged security platform – known as Security Service Edge (SSE).
Figure 1: SASE convergence.
SSE brings together Secure Web Gateway (SWG), Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB), and Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) to secure access to the web, cloud services, and private applications, resulting in reduced risk, cost and complexity. McAfee Enterprise has long been a proponent of this approach: we embarked on a project to build the industry’s best SASE security solution over three years ago, introduced our MVISION Unified Cloud Edge solution in early 2020, and have since continued to innovate and set the standard for the Security Service Edge space.
How Did We Get Here?
The fundamental problem that SSE sets out to solve is that enterprises must adequately secure their personnel and their data. This became increasingly difficult as digital transformation spurred widespread cloud adoption and empowered remote and mobile workers. Just a few short years ago we would talk about remote access for short periods of time due to travel, and typically for a small proportion of the workforce. Today we speak in the context of COVID-19 and a vast, permanent “Work From Anywhere” (WFA) cultural shift. Supporting this shift is an accelerated migration into the cloud, where the vast majority of workloads and applications will soon reside.
All of this has taken down the walls that formed the perimeter we relied on heavily in the past. Today our people and our data are outside of that perimeter but inside of cloud applications. Cloud applications run from many locations, sometimes around the globe. Yet our objectives must remain the same. We still must secure our people, we must secure our devices, and we must secure our data on any device, at any time, using any service.
Secure web gateways were one of the gatekeepers to the old perimeter, fundamentally appliances that existed at the border of a network. Cloud access security brokers (CASB) were fundamentally built to secure the inside of cloud services. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) enabled you to securely interconnect offices and remote users onto a single network. Managing these technologies separately became increasingly problematic as the boundaries between networks, the web, and the cloud began to blur. Organizational policies and compliance requirements must be translated to the administrative setup of a specific vendor’s management consoles. At first pass, this results in more errors in the implementation of these policies. Maintenance is difficult as policy changes must be rolled out and implemented within multiple vendor management interfaces. And when you position these traditional technologies against the problem statement of a “perimeterless” world, they fail. The logical answer to these problems is to converge these technologies together and bring them to the cloud.
The Power of Unification
For more than 3 years, McAfee Enterprise has invested deeply into a unified policy framework. We’ve unified threat engines, data engines. We’ve built a unified user experience and unified administrative experience to deliver against that promise of cloud native security.
A closely integrated SSE infrastructure can address the management challenges of setting up policies in multiple vendor management interfaces by deeply integrating security controls to reduce overhead, complexity, and cost, while increasing performance. But looking at the competitive landscape, this has proven to be easier said than done. Many fall short with it comes to securing data within the cloud, but McAfee Enterprise’s industry-leading Multi-Vector Data Protection capabilities make it incredibly easy to keep data safe no matter where it resides, with unified data classification, policy enforcement, and incident management.
Figure 2: McAfee Enterprise Multi-Vector Data Protection.
Other vendors grew up in the cloud but fall short when it comes to connecting to the private resources all large enterprises still use today. Some vendors are attempting to build-out the entire SSE product set from scratch, perhaps as part of a larger SASE offering. Most of the functions present baseline functional capability and the considerable instability of a complex and very new product.
The McAfee Enterprise Security Service Edge Vision
McAfee Enterprise has planned and executed a strategy for several years that takes MVISION Unified Cloud Edge’s complete set of SSE converged security services and then tie them closely to other highly integrated network services such as those offered by SD-WAN vendors to implement SASE. This approach enables most large enterprises the ability to leverage the majority of the technology partners they have to pull a SASE architecture together using much of the technology infrastructure they already have in place.
Figure 3: Enable secure access to web, cloud, and private apps with MVISION Unified Cloud Edge.
The increased efficiency of an integrated environment reduces the investment in administration, enhances the precision of policy enforcement, and improves the speed with which security control processes can be applied to data and activity in one single pass, improving security efficiency and efficacy. This earlier published blog demonstrates how our integration of Remote Browser Isolation (RBI) greatly improves security protection in a seamless, cost-effective manner.
Figure 4: MVISION Unified Cloud Edge threat protection stack with integrated Remote Browser Isolation.
The convergence and integration of cloud security technologies such as SWG, CASB, ZTNA, DLP, RBI and FWaaS substantially enhance operations, reduce cost, minimize errors, and enable more precise enforcement of organizational policy and management. Expenses are lower as experts in the administration and management of separate security controls are no longer required.
In conclusion, McAfee Enterprise has delivered the best and most rapid path to a comprehensive integrated SSE offering available in the market. Our Unified Cloud Edge (UCE) architecture completes that vision of unified and completely integrated policy management today. MVISION UCE is the security fabric that delivers data and threat protection to any location so you can enable fast and secure direct-to-internet access for your distributed workforce. This results in a transformation to a cloud-delivered SSE that converges with connectivity to reduce cost and complexity while increasing the speed and flexibility of your workforce.