Westcon recently had the pleasure of hosting a panel of industry experts to help simplify SASE and explore the market opportunity for channel partners. Here are 13 actionable insights from the event to help open a SASE conversation with customers, overcome objections and start their journey to secure, cloud-delivered connectivity.
Panel of experts
- Daniel Hurel, VP Cybersecurity and NGS, Westcon
- Gary Cox, EMEA Product Sales Specialist, Infoblox
- Mike Kontowtt, VP Channel, GE Infovista
- John Brown, Director EMEA Channels Menlo Security
- Mathias Widler, Vice President EMEA – SASE, Palo Alto Networks
1. Consistent user experience is key
Post-COVID, partners need to make sure the policy and protection of all users is the same, no matter where they are. Whether it’s a Starbucks, home office, bricks and mortar office or anything in between, it has to be consistent. That is the key that underpins the SASE framework – consistent user experience and user protection. Making sure that every user can connect based on their policies and connect with the shortest path possible, so performance is where it needs to be.
2. Different customers need a different conversation
Some users want to buy SASE from a single vendor or partner who can tie the network in with security and offer a single package. These are typically smaller, less security conscious and are looking for simplicity of purchase and a single pane of glass for ease of management and reporting. Larger, more complex and security-conscious organisations will have networking and security teams who know – or think they know – what they want, which is typically best of breed in each segment from dual- or multi-vendor solutions. Partners need to assess where customers are on this journey and modify their approach.
3. Killer apps are driving SASE adoption
There are multiple drivers for SASE adoption, but it is often rollouts of killer cloud apps like Office365 that drive them to change their network and security infrastructure. Office365 needs a round trip below 50 milliseconds, which you can only get with local internet breakouts. And for local internet breakouts you need SD-WAN, and if you have SD-WAN it makes sense to have security. Many customers push back on having local internet breakouts because they fear losing control, and SASE fixes that pain point.
4. Don’t bite off more than you can chew
Offering SASE can seem daunting. Start by supporting cloud migration through Secure Web Gateway (SWG), skill up and scale into other technology areas, and build from there. Start small, scale, don’t bite off more than you can chew. Only 5% of enterprises adopted SWG, zero trust network access (ZTNA) and branch Firewall-as-a-Service capabilities from the same vendor in 2019. Market analysis suggests that this will rise to 20% by 2023. You don’t have to go after all 15 SASE technologies at once. Focus on these, and it will massively boost your bottom line.
5. Overcome complexity for a LAN-like experience
When customers use cloud but don’t touch their VPN infrastructure, they must create multiple VPN profiles to access Google Cloud, Azure, AWS – making it more convoluted, increasingly complex, with poor usability. The WAN becomes complex, costly and the epitome of lack of agility. Zero trust network access based on a cloud-based SASE service gives remote access delivered by the cloud to all locations, with multiple open connections and a LAN-like experience. This makes it super comfortable to use and easier for the IT department to manage.
6. Educate to innovate, keep safe and stay ahead
Google research shows that employees now spend 75% of their working day in a browser. But how safe is that browser? Check customers understand the issues, and if they’re worried about the complexity of SASE, coach and educate them about the risks and benefits. Their business is changing and so must their network. If they don’t address this change soon, they will get left behind. If they get it right now and leverage the latest innovations, they will reap the benefits for years to come.
7. Overcome the cost and capacity constraints of MPLS
Are users aware that Office365 can multiply traffic five-fold? How will that impact their WAN? They may need more MPLS bandwidth, but do they know how much of their MPLS traffic is already on the internet? MPLS is expensive and usually slower, so when the customer realises that they have 80% of traffic already over the internet on their MPLS, suggest offloading it onto a local breakout, driving a cost and performance discussion.
8. Security is now embedded in every conversation
68% of companies investigating SD-WAN say that security is one of their primary concerns. But there’s no two ways about it: securing and simplifying the edge is a challenge. That’s why Gartner moved down the SASE route from branch firewalls to securing the service edge. Customers understand the challenge of this massively expanded threat landscape, but they don’t know how to resolve it. That’s where you can become trusted advisers.
9. Consolidated platform or best of breed?
Customers don’t need to order everything off the SASE menu. Identify what they need and what they are trying to achieve. What is their digital transformation journey and what aspects need to be consolidated? Should it be a consolidated approach, or should it be best of breed? It’s never been more important to keep track of the tech gap analysis within your installed customer base. What technologies do customers already have, and where can you compete and win?
10. Timing can be a barrier to adoption
If customers already have SASE components, do they cut their losses on a product they already have or do they wait until end of life? Vendors run on different lifecycles, so it’s about finding the right time or the right impetus to make that move. Start with pockets of the network, replacing small segments and enhancing security.
11. SASE is a journey not a platform
Customers should buy into SASE as a concept not a platform. Start with the biggest challenge, such as remote access, and take a phased, step-by-step approach. 74% of IT decision-makers are currently adopting technology that’s capable of supporting SASE architecture, so most customers know the value already. For those that don’t, it’s an education process: make them aware of the stakes they’re playing for.
12. Focus on renewals for recurring revenues
When are your customers’ security or networking contracts coming up for renewal? With standard three-to-five-year contracts, many SD-WAN contracts are due for renewal now. When is their MPLS contract up? Do they understand how much they can save by migrating to the cloud? By bundling SD-WAN with security modules, SASE offers significant cost savings and a very fast ROI. In many cases, you can justify the investment and cost for implementing a SASE service by the cost savings they would make by replacing MPLS with internet.
13. Disties have a central role to play
As this world changes, vendors, partners and end users are changing and adapting, and disties are changing too. In this complex, rapidly changing environment, Westcon’s Next Generation Solutions make perfect sense, offering a broad spectrum of knowledge, enablement and expertise to simplify SASE and drive success for channel partners. Our approach to the SASE opportunity for channel partners is proactive and built on a comprehensive vendor portfolio to meet every SASE requirement.