SASE, SD-WAN, and SSE untangled

By Derek Granath, Senior Director, Product and Technical Marketing
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When it comes to the WAN, the letter “S” plays a pivotal role

First, a riddle: What do cloud-first Wide Area Networks (WAN) and snakes have in common? They both hissssss: sssSASE, ssssSD-WAN, and sssssSSE. OK, I admit that was pretty bad, but there can be a lot of confusion since so many WAN acronyms start with the letter “S.”

Some history

SD-WAN: Believe it or not, the term Software-defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) was introduced all the way back in 2014. It’s now well recognized and widely adopted as the cloud-first way to transform WAN architecture, improve application performance, enable more efficient connectivity, and reduce network complexity.

SASE: Back in the summer of 2019, Gartner coined the term SASE or the Secure Access Service Edge[1].

SASE describes a modern cloud-first architecture for both WAN and security functions, all delivered and managed in the cloud. SASE is the combination of SD-WAN and cloud-delivered security.

SSE: The third “S” acronym is SSE, which stands for Security Service Edge. The term first appeared in the Summer of 2021, and Gartner published the first Magic Quadrant for SSE in February 2022.[2] As defined by Gartner, SSE services include—at a minimum—Secure Web Gateway (SWG), Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB), and Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA). Additional security services can also be supported, including Firewall as a Service (FWaaS), Antivirus (A/V), Data Loss Prevention (DLP), Intrusion Detection and Prevention (IDS/IPS), Sandboxing, and more.

And now for some math

SASE is in fact the combination of SD-WAN supporting advanced WAN edge networking functions and advanced security services, primarily delivered in the cloud.

If we look at SASE like a math equation, it looks like this:


For more detail and clarity on how these “S” acronyms relate to one another, watch our short video, SASE, SD-WAN, and SSE Untangled.

Why SASE, SD-WAN, and SSE?

Why do we even need SSE? SD-WAN? SASE? It’s simple: Transforming network and security architectures can drive tangible business outcomes. After helping hundreds of customers with their SASE journeys, Aruba can confirm that incremental business value can be realized with SD-WAN and SSE to build a SASE architecture.

A SASE architecture offers the following benefits:

  • Provides the best cloud application quality of experience to users to increase productivity, customer satisfaction, and ultimately, business profitability
  • Delivers more consistent security policy enforcement across the enterprise to reduce business risk and protect brand image
  • Reduces capital and operational costs by simplifying WAN architecture, centralizing network and security management, and eliminating the backhaul of cloud-destined traffic across expensive leased line circuits, and
  • Enables enterprises to realize the maximum return on existing and ongoing cloud investments.

To learn more about SD-WAN, SSE, SASE, and the benefits of WAN and security transformation, tune in to our two short educational video series, Everything You Need to Know about SD-WAN and Everything You Need to Know about SASE.

 Related resources:

 [1] “The Future of Network Security is in the Cloud,” Gartner, 9/13/19,

[2] “Gartner Magic Quadrant for Security Service Edge,” Gartner, 2/15/22,