Partnership ecosystems and SASE

Building a close and trusted relationship between partner and customer has never been more important. Continuous technological innovation and unprecedented focus on customer experience and business outcomes have created an ecosystem of inter-dependencies unlike ever before. SASE (Secure Access Service Edge) is a case in point.

SASE is the convergence of network and network security services into an integrated cloud-native service. Previously delivered through separate physical appliances and services, SASE is an ideal example where partnerships play a critical role. SASE is the ultimate solution for digitally-driven enterprises that need to secure their data everywhere and provide employees with secure, fast access to applications wherever they are logging on from. An end-to-end SASE solution, however, is complex and challenging to implement, operate and maintain.

Delivering on SASE

Since Gartner coined the phrase back in 2019, much chatter has been generated regarding SASE. Enterprises wonder whether it will be disruptive to the current network and network security designs. They are curious about who the representative providers will be, how best to deliver and/or transform an existing environment, what components should be managed and by whom. This is where partnerships begin to take on new importance.

The good news is SASE is still in the early stages of development. Gartner placed it on the far left of the Hype Cycle for Cloud Security 2019 report with an estimate of five to ten years until this new paradigm reaches the mainstream. This means now is the opportune time to assess your strategy, confirm and/or evolve your present solution partners, chosen technologies and integration capabilities. Why? Because SASE is a use case for change that comes with tremendous benefits.

SASE is a prime example of how ecosystem partnerships can affect your desired business outcomes positively or negatively.

Collaborating for success

When you break down SASE to its fundamental components, you have three: technology, network, and security, with hardware and software architectures to consider.

In addition, you also have interconnection or hosting considerations with your cloud service providers; infrastructure layers to address both public and private; and operational implications to address, including orchestration.

It doesn’t stop there. You also have the challenge of integrating these components into your organization, which encompasses delivery, control and adoption considerations.

Just as significant as the delivery and operational components is knowing that you have a partner who understands innovation and agility – and has an eye toward the future. This is a critical component to deployment success as foundational enablement for new features such as AI for the enterprise’s next step in architectural evolution.

This is not a tick box exercise

“One and done” is not an acceptable approach to the execution of SASE. Instead, it should revolve around “How do we plan for Version 2.0.”

This vision is a required element of any trusted relationship. How your chosen partner embraces this ideology can influence the outcome of any investment.

It is exactly this scenario that highlights the importance of your partner ecosystem. Who you choose as a technology partner has implications for who you choose to be an integration partner. Safe in the knowledge that your delivery partner possesses the skills and expertise to support your roadmap, it can make all the difference in your overall success. Speed, experience in problem-solving, global capabilities, and demonstrating a strong relationship with the partners you have chosen to work with are pivotal in the decision-making process.

The how is as important as the who

Here at Orange Business, the how is just as important as the who. In our evolution to a systems integrator, partnership has always been the bedrock from which we have built our capabilities – no matter which part of our portfolio an enterprise may focus on.

Even more importantly, knowing we provide complex solutions to some of the world’s largest and most prestigious organizations on the planet, choosing who we want to invest in has always been a priority and given careful consideration.

Our SASE strategy reflects this fundamental approach. Our longstanding relationships with best-in-class partners like Cisco, Palo Alto Networks and Fortinet demonstrate our depth of knowledge, experience and the impact we have on each other’s businesses.

Having confidence that your partner has the relationships to influence and contribute to architectures, escalate challenges and align with leadership can be a key attribute to reaching your own finishing line.

This highlights the importance of a broad landscape that goes beyond the OEMs providing hardware, software and services, one that has strong relationships with players across your ecosystem.

We maintain strategic relationships with hundreds of cloud service providers, financial services organizations and infrastructure carriers around the world, including AWS, Equinix, GCP and Azure. Just as important as the relationships with the OEMs, these partners are also mission-critical to your success.

Working together is key

The convergence of all of these relationships ultimately drives your expected results and defines SASE.

Falling short in one category can have considerable consequences, leading to delays, unplanned costs and poor customer satisfaction. We have built our business with this in mind. No matter how large or small, our relationships are rigorously reviewed and governed by strict programs.

These programs drive ongoing improvements and mandatory dialogue around roadmaps and strategy while pursuing operational excellence.

Integration is at the center of all we do, and we would welcome the opportunity to explore your SASE journey when you are ready to begin. Read more about the SASE journey in this blog.

Marc Schlesinger
Marc Schlesinger

Marc Schlesinger is a seasoned Sales and Professional Services leader with more than 30 years of enterprise industry experience across multiple verticals. He is currently responsible for the Orange Business strategic partner ecosystem in the Americas, building present and future GTM strategies, sales enablement and solution creation to drive revenue and profitability. When Marc is not working, he enjoys spending time with his two Bernese Mountain dogs Enzo and Hershey.