Windstream Enterprise launches managed SASE with Cato Networks

The bundling of Cato's SASE technology with Windstream Enterprise’s managed services is designed to enable the deployment of a wide range of networking and security capabilities across locations, users, and applications.

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Windstream Enterprise, a managed communications service company, is launching a comprehensive, managed secure access service edge (SASE) solution in partnership with cloud-native SASE provider Cato Networks.

With Cato's technology, Windstream can offer a SASE solution to meet rising customer demand for a holistic network and security-as-a-service offering, says Mike Frane, VP of product management at Windstream Enterprise.

"Windstream Enterprise wraps its extensive managed services expertise around the SASE services by delivering concierge-level configuration, analysis, and optimization through our Technical Service Management (TSM) team, coupled with comprehensive security oversight and management from our Cyber Security Operations Center (CSOC)," Frane says.

SASE, as defined by Gartner, is a security framework prescribing the conversion of security and network connectivity technologies into a single cloud-delivered platform to enable secure and fast cloud transformation.  

The bundling of Cato's SASE technology with Windstream Enterprise's managed services will allow for the rapid deployment of a wide range of networking and security capabilities across locations, users, and applications to enable customers' digital transformation and support the movement of their users and applications, according to Frane.

SASE blends modern network, security mandates  

Cato's cloud-native SASE framework has been made available to enterprises for implementation through Windstream Enterprise's proprietary WE Connect portal, designed to enable configuration, analysis, and automation of the technology's  constituent elements:

  • As a network foundation for SASE that enables optimized application performance, network routing, global connectivity, WAN and internet security, cloud acceleration, and remote access. 
  • For traffic inspection across all ports and protocols using application-aware firewalling, antimalware, and intrusion detection and prevention capabilities. 
  • Ensuring compliance of cloud-based access with data privacy regulations and corporate security policies. 
  • For regulation compliance and security policy enforcement for every user, device, location, and network. 

"Customers can further streamline their operations and improve productivity with the seamless integration of our UCaaS solution, OfficeSuite UC, and Managed LAN services, and they can choose from a wide variety of managed access options including Ethernet, broadband, and cellular," adds Frane. 

Unified communications as a service (UCaaS) is a cloud-delivered unified communications model that supports six communications functions: voice and telephony, meetings (audio/video/web conferencing), clients, messaging, presence (personal and team), and communications-enabled applications. 

The new managed SASE offering features a dashboard packed with multiple SASE components with provisions to monitor and configure network access and security. The network tab includes sites, bandwidth management, DHCP (dynamic host configuration protocol) configuration, last-mile monitoring, DNS, IP allocations, and remote port forwarding. Security features include internet firewall, WAN firewall, IPS (intrusion prevention system), Next-Generation Anti-Malware, Content Restrictions, TLS (transport layer security) inspection, application control, and redirect page customization 

Additionally, the dashboard will feature a mix of access configuration methods including directory services, browser access, client access, single sign-on, device posture, client connectivity policies, user awareness, and MAC authentication. The WE portal provides overall visibility into network topology, events, threats, cloud apps, application analytics, and audit trails.  

 Windstream Enterprise encourages its existing MPLS (multi-protocol label switching) and internet customers to move to the SASE unified framework as it sees a minimal learning curve relative to the benefits associated with the adoption.  

"In many ways, the Cato offering complements the other technologies already in our portfolio of SD-WAN and security services and allows us to expand our addressable market," noted Frane. "However, the new SASE solution is pretty much self-contained, meaning it was built as an integrated offering and does not interoperate with other platforms. Given this, we're focusing our sales efforts on existing customers and new opportunities who haven't yet adopted SD-WAN from Windstream Enterprise." 

Although SASE theoretically cuts complexity and costs by allowing users to scale up or down and be billed accordingly, some industry insiders question the cloud-native approach's effectiveness and ability to integrate with enterprises' conventional or legacy network architectures. 

"Although bringing conventional network security approaches into a more modernized framework is core to rapid transformation, SASE is not without its critics that believe the nirvana of an all-cloud/all-the-time infrastructure discounts the reality of hybrid and on-prem that remains how a vast swath of business operates today," says Liz Miller, an analyst at Constellation Research. 

Technology professionals stress that not all enterprises have lifted and shifted to a 100% cloud reality, according to Miller. Providing security and policy enforcement across any infrastructure is and likely will remain a complex undertaking for some time. 

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