SASE Architecture - Understanding the Basics

Last Updated:
October 2, 2023
Kay Nicole

sase architecture

Employees who work from home, in remote offices, in the cloud, and on mobile devices expect high performance with low latency. It requires network and security services that scale together, greater agility, and reduced complexity for system administrators.

SASE architecture delivers these capabilities through a globally distributed fabric of points of presence to deliver low latency wherever business offices, cloud applications, and mobile users are located. It also enables security based on identity rather than IP address.


As the network evolves to meet the needs of digital organizations, new threats emerge that require a more sophisticated security framework. That is particularly true for remote and mobile workers who need access to a full range of services while staying safe from malicious content. In addition, with more data moving into cloud applications and software-as-a-service (SaaS) services than back to the primary "choke point" where firewalls reside, the need for a more advanced approach to network security has arisen.

What is SASE architecture? SASE architecture combines networking and security services, often provided as individual products, into a whole platform with unified administration capabilities. It reduces costs and complexity while enabling a least-privileged model and consistent policy enforcement across the organization.

SASE offers many key benefits that help enterprises adapt to the cloud, embrace mobility, and protect against cyber threats. Includes secure remote access, optimizing WAN connections for performance and latency, and reducing security risks with application-based routing.

The key to these advantages is that SASE leverages SD-WAN technology as its foundation while delivering the security capabilities needed for a complete solution. It means centralized control over policies via a management platform while routing traffic to security appliances closer to the end user, where they most need protection.


With SASE, network and security teams consolidate point solutions across networking and security into a single software stack. Reduces the number of vendors IT teams need to work with, cuts hardware footprints, and lowers overall costs. The unified management system simplifies deployment, configuration, reporting, and support services.

Security features of SASE include cloud access security brokers, secure web gateways (SWG), and zero trust network access (ZTNA). Unlike traditional hardware networks focusing on site-based access, these technologies provide identity-driven user services. Identity is tied to devices, branch offices, IoT devices, and edge computing locations. This real-time context determines security services and policies for every WAN session.

The centralized policy application of SASE improves IT agility by allowing organizations to manage traffic better and deliver a consistent experience for employees across the enterprise. SASE also makes it easier to scale in line with digital transformation and IT upgrades, future-proofing the network for high performance.

Lastly, SASE architectures enable local internet breakouts that eliminate the latency issues of backhauled architectures. It improves architectural elasticity and increases the speed of WAN connections. The unified SASE platform connects remote users and locations to the nearest points of presence, leveraging cloud security to optimize the WAN and avoid backhauling. It eliminates latency for SaaS applications and reduces bandwidth usage through caching.

Network Services

Unlike traditional networking approaches, which centralize policy enforcement by routing traffic through a network firewall at the data center, SASE architecture distributes policy enforcement closer to users. Reduces latency and increases security and performance.

Similarly, the architecture eliminates hardware costs by shifting networking and security functions to the cloud. It allows organizations to save on upfront investment, ongoing software licensing fees, upgrades, repairs, and maintenance costs. It removes the need for a centralized network infrastructure that requires hardware at each location to support security features like inline traffic inspection and DDoS mitigation.

SASE is also designed to be integrated with SD-WAN, delivering a unified platform that merges network connectivity and security capabilities. It helps enterprises reduce complexity and improve security and performance while quickly scaling up or down with their business needs.

Integrating SASE and SD-WAN also enables enterprises to implement their preferred management model for the platform. For example, an organization can deploy a self-hosted SASE solution or use a provider-managed platform. Both models deliver the same functionality, but the end user will architect and maintain the self-hosted option. At the same time, the provider-managed solution will have an architecture that consists of SD-WAN from the vendor with built-in security functions.


In the past, networks relied on centralized firewalls to enforce security policies. However, this approach can be costly and create a single point of failure. SASE architecture distributes policy enforcement closer to users, so it's faster and more cost-effective. It is accomplished by leveraging cloud-delivered points of inspection traffic before entering the corporate network. That makes it easier to deploy consistent security across remote locations and mobile devices without the expense of installing hardware.

SASE's identity-driven services let enterprises protect users, applications, and infrastructure regardless of their location or device. The architecture's context-aware capabilities allow IT teams to secure connections based on identity and other factors, such as application and data sensitivity, device risk/trust posture, time of day, and more.

To maximize the benefits of SASE architecture, IT teams need to choose a service provider that offers integrated networking and security. Providers that offer both networking and security features can reduce the number of vendors enterprises have to work with, making it easier for them to manage multiple providers while delivering an optimal user experience. Additionally, a service provider with an extensive global network can help ensure low latency between users and their preferred applications. It is crucial in the case of SASE architecture, where users access their preferred applications over the public Internet.

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