VMware rounds out SASE platform, builds new tools for remote workers

With the Covoid-19 pandemic altering the workplace, VMware announced its Future-Ready Workforce solutions along with updates to its SASE and SD-WAN solutions.

The Future-Ready Workforce offerings provide end-to-end zero trust security controls, and simplified management combined with VMware's secure access service edge (SASE), Digital Workspace and Endpoint Security capabilities. The platform enables IT teams to manage and optimize secure access to any device across any cloud for remote workers.

Legacy networking and security approaches lack the automation, cloud scale and intrinsic security that is needed for today's "work from anywhere" employees, according to VMware. VMware's new VMware Cloud Security service blends Menlo Security's secure web gateway, cloud access service broker and remote browser isolation into VMware's SASE platform.

"So Menlo will be tightly integrated," said VMware's Sanjay Uppal, senior vice president and general manager.  "It's going to be inside of our POPs, and there will be a single unified management interface. Menlo has a lot of components. They really made their mark around browser isolation, but they also have CASB components."

Uppal said the VMware Cloud  Security solution would be sold and supported by VMware.

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While VMware has hundreds of customers, according to Uppal, with Zscaler, the two companies announced a "preferred partnership" at VMworld 2020. The partnership included combining VMware's SD-WAN and VMware Secure Access with Zscaler's Secure Web Gateway for a SASE solution.

"What we're doing with them is we are broadening the relationship so that we get tighter product integration between the Zscaler cloud and our cloud," Uppal said.  "And then we get the sales forces also to align, meaning that there will be salesforce compensation for selling the solution one way or another.

"So if they bring some deals to us, we compensate their salesforce. If we bring deals to them, they compensate our salesforce. So it's a tighter integration of a kind that we have not done before, but clearly they are the leader in that quadrant, and we are the leader in ours."

Cloud Web Security is slated to be available early next year.

Also on the SASE front, VMware expanded its global network by more than 2,700 cloud service nodes across 130 points-of-presence, which VMware claimed is the largest SASE network offering on the market. VMware is also integrating its Layer 7 NSX firewall into its SASE solution to provide a cloud-based firewall, which will be available next year.  

"We're cloudifiying it, making it multi tenant and sticking it in the same SASE POP," Uppal said of the NSX firewall.

In another piece of the SASE puzzle, VMware combined VMware Workspace with its SD-WAN to create VMware Secure Access, which offers more secure, optimized access for remote workers and mobile users. VMware Secure Access is scheduled to be available by the end of January.

The future of work-from-home

The global pandemic has disrupted how employees will work going forward, with companies of all sizes contemplating whether to keep employees home, bring them back to the office, or some combination of the two. According to research by VMware, 42% of the global employees in as survey said working from home (WFH) was a prerequisite and not a perk. Among the responses, 90% said it was the responsibly of the employers to make sure remote workers had the correct digital tools to do their jobs.

Uppal said while there has been some drop-off in branch locations due to Covid-19, VMware's WFH solution has picked up. After conducting surveys with some of its customers, Uppal said there are three buckets for the future of work.

"One is what they're calling fixed, which is people who want to come back into the office just like they did before with the same hours," he said. "The second is remote, which is people who permanently decided that they're going to remain remote. And then the third is flexible, where people want to come in for a few days and not come in for other days. And so depending on which company it is, and which vertical it is, those three buckets tend to change.

"But when we did our own sort of informal survey, we found that in the fixed bucket, only 11% wanted to come back as they did prior to the pandemic. So that's a pretty low number, which means that there willbe a lot of folks in the remote and the flexible buckets. My own personal opinion is that there's going to be a lot of people in the flexible bucket; upwards of two thirds to maybe even three quarters. This flexible offering is going to suit a number of people."