SASE Partnerships Heat up with MSSPs


By: Andrew Braunberg

As we mentioned in our recent report, Cloud Secure Edge and SASE Trends: 2021, managed security services providers (MSSPs) are increasingly embracing SASE services. The trend will likely accelerate throughout the remainder of 2021 and into next year.

In just the first two weeks of November we have seen several interesting announcements from MSSPs entering the market or expanding their offerings. AT&T has added Cisco to its roster of SASE technology partners. The company had already announced SASE partnerships with Palo Alto Networks and Fortinet. AT&T SASE with Cisco is described as a converged network and security management solution that connects and protects enterprises with software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) technology and security capabilities.

Smaller Players Jump to SASE

Smaller service providers are also moving into the market. For example, MetTel, recently announced an extension of its existing SD-WAN and firewall as a service (FWaaS) offering to include Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA). MetTel described the introduction of ZTNA as another step toward the introduction of a full SASE portfolio delivered as a managed service. MetTel views ZTNA has both an “evolutionary step beyond virtual private networks (VPNs)” as well as the “basis for any organization looking to adopt a Zero-Trust security framework.”

This is all good news for many organizations that do not have the in-house expertise to roll out SASE solutions. The long-time difficulty in finding security personnel has only been exacerbated by the Great Resignation of 2021, and many of the key benefits of using MSSPs are tied to finding and retaining personnel.

Partnering with an MSSP enables organizations to fill gaps in internal security teams or to replace them entirely. MSSPs also typically retain very specialized security talent, such as malware analysts or forensics specialists. MSSPs have the scale required to retain this expertise in-house and make it available to customers on demand. A related benefit is the ability to scale availability to 24/7/365 protection through continual detection and response to potential cyberattacks. Availability to this level of expertise can help organizations move up the security maturity hierarchy more quickly and SASE would be an important move in that direction.

MSSP Partnerships Become More Critical

Service providers have been aided by security vendors that have been tailoring their SASE products for their MSSP partners. For example, earlier this Fall, Barracuda Networks announced a new SASE platform designed for MSSPs. The cloud-native suite brings together secure SD-WAN, FWaaS, ZTNA, and Secure Web Gateway technology from Barracuda.

Not surprisingly, Palo Alto Networks and Fortinet have been particularly aggressive in pushing their SASE solutions out through MSSP partners. Just in the 2nd half of this year, so far, Palo Alto has announced partnerships with the TELUS, Wipro, and AIS. The AIS partnership was just announced a few weeks ago. AIS is a service provider that serves the Thailand market. Wipro, of course, sells its services worldwide. Both announcements highlight that SASE is resonating globally.

Fortinet has also been active in partnering with service providers for both full SASE as well as SD-WAN. In the first half of the year, Fortinet announced a partnership with AT&T to launch AT&T Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) with Fortinet, a global managed SASE solution that blends software-defined wide-area network (SD-WAN) capabilities with network security functions. Fortinet also picked a SASE partner, Masergy (now owned by Comcast) as its 2021 MSSP partner of the year.

More recently, Fortinet has announced numerous new SD-WAN partners, including Verizon, Telefonica Tech, Granite Telecommunications, C&W Business Panama, Acuative, and Tata Teleservices. Telefonica Tech will also be offering Fortinet’s SASE solutions. We would expect more of Fortinet’s SD-WAN partners to add Fortinet SASE services to their offerings over time.

MSSPs are clearly sold on the value of moving into the SASE space. As noted, the benefits for some organizations to rely on service providers are compelling. Futuriom will drill into the drivers and benefits of MSSP delivered SASE in much more detail next Spring when we release the SD-WAN and SASE Managed Services Report.