CASB vs. SASE: What's the difference? SD-WAN deployments feed SASE network and security convergence

SASE vs. NaaS: What's the difference?

SASE and NaaS are network models with different goals. SASE combines SD-WAN with cloud-based security, while NaaS lets businesses outsource network management via a subscription model.

Secure Access Service Edge and network as a service both describe network architecture models, but they vary vastly when it comes to business goals.

SASE refers to a secure WAN access model that helps deliver data security services and low-latency cloud access. NaaS, on the other hand, is a way for businesses to outsource the procurement, installation and management of LANs to a third-party service provider.

What is SASE?

Organizations that manage geographically diverse branch offices and remote workforces have historically struggled to use cumbersome and slow legacy VPN technologies that are full of security posture gaps. SASE has recently emerged to alleviate those issues. SASE is an architecture model that delivers the combined benefits of software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) technologies with cloud-based network security.

Network teams can opt to deploy their own SASE presence and strategically place SD-WAN and network security services at various clouds and cloud edges. Alternatively, SASE service providers can deliver these services via an as-a-service model, which eliminates the need for teams to deploy and manage the technologies themselves.

When employees need to access corporate resources from a branch office or remote location, they communicate with the SASE service location that delivers optimal performance. The service location largely depends on the location of the office or user.

From here, the service seamlessly creates secure connections and routes user traffic across a WAN or the internet to the corporate applications or services users need to access. Not only does this deliver improved network latency to applications and services, but it also streamlines the process of creating a secure and private connection to those resources.

What is NaaS?

NaaS takes a page from the SaaS model -- it offloads the purchase, design, deployment and installation of LAN switching, routing and wireless components to a third-party management company. The organization signs a multiyear agreement with the provider, which is responsible for all the network infrastructure buildout, moves, adds, changes and troubleshooting.

Third-party providers completely manage the applications, servers and associated cloud networking tools. This management eliminates the need for businesses to purchase hardware and software to build and manage the services on their own. Like SaaS, NaaS has become popular because it enables businesses to access cloud applications across the internet that service providers manage.

NaaS has become a viable option for organizations that want to avoid the headache of hiring and maintaining network employees, as well as face high upfront purchase costs. IT network engineers can use NaaS to free up time and reduce in-house workforce demands.

SASE vs. NaaS: How do they compare?

SASE and NaaS both deal with network infrastructure issues, but they differ in their goals and benefits. SASE focuses on network performance optimization and increased data security of distributed workforces. NaaS is a subscription model that reduces the need for businesses to build and manage networks.

That said, NaaS and SASE are similar in the fact that they are emerging network models that help organizations conduct business in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Both models enable businesses to focus on core competencies, while they provide end-user flexibility and improved digital service reliability.

While neither model is right for every organization, SASE and NaaS continue to rise in popularity as they give businesses more options in how they operate, spend their budget and allocate internal IT resources.

Andrew Froehlich is founder of InfraMomentum, an enterprise IT research and analyst firm, and president of West Gate Networks, an IT consulting company. He has been involved in enterprise IT for more than 20 years.

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