SASE vs. NaaS: What’s the difference?

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

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

What is SASE?

Organizations managing geographically diverse and remote workforces have historically struggled to use difficult and slow VPN technologies full of security posture gaps. SASE has recently emerged to alleviate the issues. SASE is an architectural model that provides the combined benefits of software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) technologies with cloud-based network security.

Network teams can choose to deploy their own SASE presence and strategically place SD-WAN and network security services across different clouds and cloud environments. Alternatively, SASE service providers can deliver these services through a service-as-a-service model, removing the need for teams to deploy and manage technologies themselves.

When employees need to access corporate resources from a branch office or remote location, they communicate with the SASE service location that provides the best performance. The location of the service 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 corporate applications or services that users need to access. Not only does it deliver improved network latency to applications and services, but it also streamlines the process of creating a secure and private connection to 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 signed a multiyear agreement with the provider, which is responsible for all network infrastructure buildout, movement, addition, change and troubleshooting.

Third-party providers fully manage applications, servers and associated cloud networking tools. This management eliminates the need for businesses to purchase hardware and software to create and manage services themselves. Like SaaS, NaaS has become popular because it enables businesses to access cloud applications across the internet managed by service providers.

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

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 optimizing network performance and increasing data security in a distributed workforce. NaaS is a subscription model that reduces the need for businesses to build and manage networks.

That being said, NaaS and SASE are similar in the fact that they are evolving network models which helps organizations to 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 improve digital service reliability.

While no model is right for every organization, SASE and NaaS continue to rise in popularity as they give businesses more choice in how they operate, spend their budget and allocate internal IT resources. .

Andrew Froehlich is the founder of InfraMomentum, an IT business research and analyst firm, and president of West Gate Networks, an IT consulting firm. He has been involved in business IT for over 20 years.

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