10 Hot SASE Companies To Watch In 2023
These companies are helping to boost security, visibility and agility for businesses that need to provide their workforce with secure remote access to applications.
The SASE Convergence
The parallel worlds of networking and cybersecurity have each had their share of innovation, disruption and reinvention throughout the decades-long history of IT. But with the arrival of SASE, the two worlds have converged, and simultaneously begun to undergo a massive reinvention. Accelerated by the distribution of the workforce amid the pandemic, SASE, which stands for “secure access service edge,” has gotten huge interest from businesses in recent years thanks to its promise of providing secure remote access to applications. In tandem with the interest, the number of companies with SASE offerings on the market has surged. And so have the opportunities for solution provider partners of those vendors, which include Cloudflare, Palo Alto Networks, Zscaler, VMware and Cisco.
At ePlus Technology, No. 30 on the 2022 CRN Solution Provider 500, “we’re working with customers to help to understand what the future of work looks like and how to properly secure users’ traffic to applications,” said Lee Waskevich, vice president of security at the Herndon, Va.-based company. With the arrival of multi-cloud computing and an increasing reliance on cloud-based SaaS applications, SASE “naturally lends itself to being that intermediary layer, the same way that the next-gen firewalls from before were at that perimeter,” Waskevich said. “SASE becomes that new perimeter, that new layer, where you can connect from anywhere, secure access to your applications, whether they’re on-prem or in the cloud.” Given that VPN technologies have been around for decades, “it was time for a change,” he said.
While the definitions of SASE can vary, Gartner — whose analysts coined the term in 2019 — points to five key capabilities: SD-WAN, secure web gateway (SWG), cloud access security broker (CASB), next-gen firewall (NGFW) and zero trust network access (ZTNA). Together, those capabilities enable “zero trust access based on the identity of the device or entity, combined with real-time context and security and compliance policies,” and can provide this secure access whether workers are in the office or working remotely, according to Gartner, which has pegged the market at growing an average growth rate of 32% a year to reach nearly $15 billion by 2025. In addition to improved security and compliance, SASE can boost visibility and agility for businesses while also simplifying the management of both security and network services, Gartner analysts have noted.
In the coming years, SASE will also able to reduce the number of vendors needed to enable secure access to just one or two vendors, according to Gartner analysts. In part, that’s because the companies with SASE offerings are continually working to build out a complete platform for secure access service edge — integrating all of five of the solutions mentioned above, and often with additional capabilities as well. Some vendors are more accurately classified as falling into the category of “security service edge,” or SSE, on account of their focus on the security-oriented solutions such as ZTNA, SWG and CASB, according to Gartner, which last year released a Magic Quadrant report for SSE vendors as well as a separate Magic Quadrant for SD-WAN vendors.
To help give a sense of some of the vendors in this space that are on our radar at CRN, what follows are our picks for 10 hot SASE companies to watch in 2023.
Cato Networks contends that it offers “the most robust single-vendor SASE solution,” pointing to the company’s introduction back in 2016 of the Cato Cloud network security platform (which would ultimately fall into the category of SASE after the coining of the term three years later). Today, the Cato SASE Cloud brings together Cato SD-WAN with Cato SSE 360, the company’s cloud-native security service edge offering that includes ZTNA, SWG, CASB and firewall-as-a-service, along with capabilities such as data loss prevention and “advanced” threat prevention.
In November, Cato announced a milestone aimed at showing its traction in the SASE market, with the firm disclosing that its annual recurring revenue has surpassed $100 million — a feat it achieved five years after its sales began. And in January, the company announced that channel veteran Frank Rauch, formerly of the channel chief at companies including Check Point and VMware, has joined Cato as its global channel chief.
Another single-vendor SASE provider will be no stranger to anyone familiar with the history of network security: Cisco. But the tech giant is hoping that its investment into building out a full SASE platform — available as a unified “SASE as-a-service” offering, Cisco Plus Secure Connect — will keep the company at the forefront of both networking and security for years to come. Notably, last year Cisco unveiled Cisco Plus Secure Connect Now — which gives partners and enterprises a “turnkey” offering for the quick deployment of SASE that can be operated and managed through the cloud on an as-a-service subscription.
Cloudflare has spent the past few years building out its SASE platform, Cloudflare One, including adding missing pieces such as CASB last year. In January, the company added another key piece with the introduction of its Magic WAN Connector, a software-defined solution for securely connecting businesses to the web. With the addition of Magic WAN Connector, “Cloudflare One is now a true integrated SASE security and networking solution,” the company said in a news release. The solution turns Cloudflare One into “one of the most comprehensive SASE solutions available today,” Cloudflare co-founder and CEO Matthew Prince said in the release. The announcement follows the company’s announcement, last June, of the Cloudflare One Partner Program, which aims to enable channel partners such as resellers and system integrators to more effectively deliver the company’s SASE platform to customers.
Forcepoint is aiming to stand out in the secure access service edge market with what it’s calling its “data-first SASE” platform, which promises to provide “better control over how people get to business applications and use sensitive data” than competing SASE offerings. Recent moves to bolster the single-vendor SASE platform from Forcepoint include the appointment of new sales leaders in December, including a new chief revenue officer and a new senior vice president of North America Sales. With the appointments, Forcepoint is looking to “exponentially grow [its] Data-first SASE business and partner with customers and the channel.”
Fortinet says that its SASE platform — a single-vendor offering combining SD-WAN with a security service edge (SSE) solution — stands out as the “most integrated single-vendor SASE solution on the market.” The platform, FortiSASE, ultimately enables “the industry’s most flexible secure private access,” the company said in a news release. In October, Fortinet debuted cloud-delivered SD-WAN connectivity within the FortiSASE offering, allowing the platform to support secure access to “the most comprehensive set of private applications running at the data center or public cloud,” the company said.
Originally best known for its CASB technology, Netskope has expanded to offer a full SASE platform including SWG, ZTNA, cloud firewall and SD-WAN, as well as data loss prevention, remote browser isolation and advanced analytics. Last August, Netskope added a key missing piece with the acquisition of Infiot, which brought SD-WAN technology into the platform. Netskope has described the technology as “borderless” because it enables the application of “uniform security and quality of experience policies to the widest range of hybrid work needs, from employees at home or on-the-go, to branch offices, ad-hoc point-of-sale systems, and multi-cloud environments.”
Palo Alto Networks
With its complete single-vendor SASE offering, Prisma SASE, Palo Alto Networks has sought to offer advantages including ZTNA that goes beyond solutions that are “too trusting and can put customers at significant risk,” the company said in a news release. Prisma SASE enables what the company calls “ZTNA 2.0,” which “solves these problems by removing implicit trust to help ensure organizations are properly secured.” Palo Alto Networks has also geared its Prisma SASE platform toward meeting the needs of managed service providers, by offering capabilities specially designed for MSPs. Those include a cloud-based management portal featuring hierarchical multitenancy, which allows for granular role-based access control “to provide the flexibility to manage multiple customers with different needs,” the company said. Additionally, Prisma SASE offers an open API framework for easier integration to MSPs’ backend infrastructure.
Versa Networks offers a single-vendor SASE platform that combines the company’s well-known SD-WAN technology with other branch networking functions, including routing and security. The company recently told CRN that it began with both security and SD-WAN in mind from the start, however, so the roadmap has always included the tight integration between the security and networking elements. In recognition of its traction in the SASE market, Versa raised $120 million in new funding in October, to further the development of its platform and accelerate the expansion of the 100 percent channel-focused company as it prepares to go public.
In November, VMware announced the expansion of its SASE infrastructure with the addition of 16 points of presence — aimed at helping to enable high-speed, low-latency connections connectivity to cloud and SaaS for customers — along with improved AIOps (AI for IT operations) in its SASE platform “to help enterprises identify better network paths to the cloud and proactively notify operations teams to take remedial action.” VMware also announced its next-gen SD-WAN offering, featuring a new SD-WAN Client for more secure and reliable delivery of applications and data to distributed users.
A top player in the security service edge (SSE) market — which is especially well-known for its fast-growing zero trust solutions — Zscaler also delivers SASE solutions to customers through partnerships and integrations with leading SD-WAN providers. The company has a number of tight integrations including with VMware SD-WAN — even though VMware offers its own SASE platform. Zscaler is thus a good example of an SSE vendor that is offering well-integrated SASE capabilities through partnerships, Gartner analysts said in a recent report. Other SD-WAN integrations and partnerships for Zscaler include HPE, Cisco, Fortinet and Palo Alto Networks Prisma SD-WAN.