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64% of businesses will be using SASE next year, but large numbers confused about true meaning

By Ryan Morris-Reade, Thu 17 Jun 2021

Research has found 64% of businesses are adopting or plan to adopt SASE in the next year, but a large number say they’re still confused about its true meaning.

The global research, commissioned by Versa Networks, examined the adoption of Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) by businesses during the lockdown and found SASE has surged during the pandemic. With 34% of businesses saying they’ve been adopting SASE in the past year, and 30% planning to in the next 6 to 12 months. 

Despite this sharp uptake of SASE, the majority (69%) of IT and security professionals surveyed remain confused about its true meaning.

The survey was conducted by Sapio Research across 500 security and IT decision-makers working at mid to large enterprises in the US, UK, France, and Germany, and revealed that 84% of businesses have accelerated their digital transformation and move to the cloud during the pandemic, and 44% of businesses expect their employees will continue to work remotely, full or part-time, once pandemic restrictions are lifted. 

According to the survey, IT and Security teams have struggled to deal with multiple complaints from workers, with 36% of respondents’ end users complaining of dropped connections when using bandwidth-hungry applications such as videoconferencing, and others suffered from the lack of real-time tech support (31%). Security has also been a problem, including the inability to enforce security policies across the remote workforce or to spot new threats facing users.

Versa says with issues such as fractured security policies and failing connectivity, companies are moving towards SASE to fix these problems, with nearly 9 out of 10 companies re-evaluating their remote connectivity policy over the past year. Versa says SASE has overtaken VPNs as the connectivity of preference, with 23% implementing VPNs versus 34% choosing SASE.

Despite its popularity, SASE remains misunderstood by the majority of IT and security professionals. Only 31% of respondents were able to correctly identify the definition of SASE as:

“The convergence of networking and security services like CASB, FWaaS and Zero Trust into a single cloud-native service model”. 

Although there’s confusion around the technology, 43% of respondents say they want to deploy SASE to improve the security of devices and applications used by remote users. And 31% say the need to prioritise performance and the delivery of business-critical applications in the cloud, and the need to support more remote workers, are key reasons behind SASE adoption.

“The survey paints a clear picture of the burden of pressures and challenges that IT and Security teams have been struggling with during the pandemic,” says Versa Networks CMO, Michael Wood.

“While the survey shows there is still some work to do in educating IT and security professionals about the true meaning of SASE, the imperative to address both remote security and connectivity issues has led companies away from the old VPN technologies that were riddled with security holes, towards SASE which gives them a compass for the future.”

He says while SASE has served them well during the lockdown, it will also prove a major asset as they contemplate the move back to the office and towards hybrid working. 

Some other interesting findings in the research:

  • Nine out of ten businesses prioritise security ahead of visibility and control, bandwidth and connectivity, or user experience when adopting SASE
  • While security is the most compelling reason for adopting SASE, for three in five businesses the responsibility for deciding to implement SASE rests with the IT team versus executive staff, the C-suite, or the board of directors
  • The IT team ranks way ahead (49%) of any other department as the most likely to complain about unreliable connectivity
  • Video conferencing and collaboration apps have posed the greatest challenges in terms of consistent performance and reliability, according to 36% of respondents
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