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Zero-trust network access is all the rage at the moment. Yet, secure access service edge (SASE) solutions are emerging as one of the key technologies empowering organizations to authenticate users at speed so they can connect to on-premises applications and cloud services.

Today, SASE-provider Versa Networks announced it has raised $120 million in financing as part of a pre-IPO funding round led by BlackRock Inc.

Versa Networks’ platform combines artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML)-powered security service edge (SSE) and SD-WAN solutions that can be deployed on-premises and in the cloud to connect users with enterprise resources whether they’re working at home or in the office.

This funding round highlights that SASE is a key solution category for applying zero-trust access controls to secure user access at a level that virtual private networks (VPNs) cannot. 


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Zero trust and SASE 

The announcement comes as more and more organizations are deploying SASE solutions to protect their environments. Research from 2021 shows that 64% of businesses are adopting or plan to adopt SASE by the end of this year. 

One of the key reasons for this shift is that traditional approaches to network-based security can’t keep up with the demands of increasingly decentralized hybrid working environments. 

“Within cybersecurity, structural tailwinds such as distributed workforces, vendor sprawl, cloud/SaaS and zero trust are driving sizable TAM growth in SASE over the next five years (33+% CAGR),“ said Kelly Ahuja, CEO of Versa Networks. 

“Enterprises find themselves with many bespoke products — each with its own management system — making it difficult to deploy, manage and operate their infrastructure. We heard from one CISO recently that they have 72 different products and panes of glass,” Ahuja said. 

To address these challenges, Versa Networks aims to give organizations the ability to simplify, automate and scale their infrastructure to ensure that users and devices in the hybrid workforce can connect seamlessly. 

Looking at the SASE market 

Currently researchers estimate the SASE market will grow from a value of $3 billion in 2021 to a value of $6 billion by 2028 as more organizations look to secure remote user access. 

One of the most significant providers in the market is Palo Alto Networks with Prisma SASE, a leader in the 2022 Gartner Magic Quadrant for SD-WAN

Prisma SASE combines zero-trust network access, a cloud-native secure web gateway, next-gen CASB, SD-WAN, and Autonomous Digital Experience Management (ADEM) into a single solution. 

Palo Alto Networks most recently announced raising $1.6 billion in fourth quarter revenue for 2022. 

Another competitor is Zscaler, which offers its own cloud-delivered SASE solution that includes a secure web gateway, CASB, zero-trust network access and encrypted traffic inspection. Zscaler also recently announced raising $1.1 billion in revenue for full-year fiscal 2022. 

However, Ahuja argues that Versa Networks’ position as a fully integrated single-vendor SASE solution differentiates it from other vendors. 

“Versa’s single-vendor SASE platform delivers organically developed best-of-breed functions that tightly integrate and deliver services via the cloud, on-premises, or as a blended combination of both, managed through a single pane of glass,” Ahuja said. 

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