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Configuring A SASE Unified Network: Data centers, Remote Sites, VPN Users, and more

Posted in SASE & SD-WAN Networks

sase introductionThis article explores the need for Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) in today’s organizations. We show how one of the most advanced SASE platforms available, combines VPN and SD-WAN capabilities with cloud-native security functions to quickly and securely connect On-premises data centers, cloud data centers, branch offices, and remote users.

Before we dive any further, let’s take a look at what’s covered:

SASE: The Architecture for a Secure Cloud and Mobile World

IT and security managers are constantly concerned by the different entities which connect to their networks. Keeping track of who is connecting, using which edge device type, what they’re connecting to, and which permissions they should have can be a messy and dangerous business.  

An enterprise’s network is composed of several types of edges. An edge can be any location or endpoint which needs to connect to any other resource or service available inside or outside the network. This includes the enterprise’s on-premises headquarters, branch offices, data centers, mobile users connecting remotely (e.g. their home), public cloud data centers (e.g. AWS and Azure), 3rd party SaaS applications (e.g. Office365 and Salesforce), and virtually any website across the WWW.

To enable connectivity and secure access for all edges, enterprises are forced to adopt different solutions to manage different edge types. For example VPN for remote users, on-prem Next Generation Firewalls (NGFWs) for the physical locations, cloud-based NGFW for cloud-based applications, Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASB) for SaaS and Secure Web Gateways (SWG) for web access.  This large number of different products introduced unwanted complexity, inefficiency, and potential security loopholes to enterprises. But perhaps there is a better way to enable secure access to any service from any edge? In fact, there is, and it’s called, surprisingly enough, Secure Access Service Edge (SASE).

catonetworks sase sdwan network traffic graph

Cloud-based SASE Traffic Analysis Dashboard - Credits: Catonetworks

Defining SASE

SASE is a new architecture that converges networking and security into a holistic, unified cloud service. It is a concept defined by Gartner in late 2019 to simplify enterprise networking and security. At the heart of the SASE premise lays the understanding that network and security cannot be addressed separately, using different products and services. The inter-dependency between the two is fundamental, and their convergence is critical for addressing the needs of the modern digital enterprise.

To learn more about SASE and how it differs from SD-WAN read our article here.

The Four Pillars of SASE Architecture:

 Four main principles lay at the heart of the SASE architecture:

  1. All edges. A true SASE solution should be able to service all enterprise edge types.
  2. Converged. SASE’s networking and security services should be delivered from one software stack, not discrete appliances integrated together, and all must be managed via a single pane of glass.
  3. Cloud-native. A SASE solution should be built using cloud-native technologies and should support elasticity, auto-scaling and high-availability.
  4. Global. An effective SASE solution should have an extensive global footprint of Points of Presence (PoPs) covering all major locations worldwide.

SASE Showcase: Connecting & Managing All Locations Together

Renewing Cisco Certifications without sitting for a Cisco Exam. Covers CCNA, CCNP, CCIE, CCDE and all Specialist Levels

Posted in Cisco Services & Technologies

cisco recertificationWithout a doubt, Cisco certifications and specializations are among the most popular vendor certifications in the IT industry, and earning them doesn’t come easy. Anyone who’s achieved a Cisco certification would be well aware of the countless hours required to cover the necessary curriculum, practice labs, and prepare for their Cisco exam.

Many would agree that one of the biggest headaches after achieving a Cisco certification is renewing it. Renewing or maintaining a Cisco certification usually requires the candidate to sit for an equal-level exam or pushing forward and aiming for a higher-level exam. While this might not be a problem for many professionals, many find it a big struggle. A significant amount of professionals decide not to renew their certifications because of the time and commitment required or because they’ve decided to focus on other vendors.

In this article, you’ll discover how you can easily renew any Cisco certification or specialization without sitting for a single exam! We’ll explain the different recertification paths, show how to select a recertification path, submit a claim, track the recertification process, open a support ticket, and more!

Here’s what’s covered:

Recertifying Cisco Certifications without Exams – How it Works

It is indeed possible to renew any Cisco certification without sitting for the dreaded exams, and it’s called the Cisco Continuing Education Program, and we’ll explain how it works.

The Cisco Continuing Education Program allows Cisco certified engineers to earn Continuing Education Credits (CE) that are then applied towards recertification. CEs can be earn via the following activities:

  • Instructor-Led Training
  • Cisco Digital Learning
  • Cisco Live! Training Sessions (BRK, LTR, TEC, DEVWks)
  • Cisco Network Academy Training
  • Other Activities such as workshops, bootcamps, etc

The amount of CE credits earned will depend on the type of activity and its duration. For example, you can earn 12 CE credits for a sitting through a 14-hour Cisco course delivered via the Cisco Digital Learning platform or earn a generous 40 to 65 credits for attending a 5-day Cisco Instructor-Led training course offered by authorized Cisco Learning Training Partners.

Once the training course or activity is complete, you submit a claim to earn the CE Credits. When you’ve gathered enough CE credits, you are automatically recertified.

How Many Cisco Learning Credits Do I Need?

The amount of Cisco Learning Credits required for your certification renewal depends on the level of recertification. For example, Associate level recertification, such as the CCNA, requires a minimum of 30 CE credits. In contrast, the Professional level (CCNP Enterprise, CCNP Data Center, etc.) requires 80 CE credits and CCIE level an impressive 120 Continuing Education credits.

The table below shows all available certification levels, duration, required Continuing Education credits, but also the ability to combine exams with Continuing Education credits to achieve recertification:

Free Webinar: Learn How Zero-Trust & Cloud Technologies Secure Your Network

Posted in OpManager - Network Monitoring & Management

zero trust security webinarWork transformation is not 'one and done,'" says  IDC's vice president, Holly Muscolino. Most enterprises understand that a hybrid workforce is the future, but they are finding the transformation difficult. To make it easy for the enterprises, IDC has come up with Branch of One - a concept that will last long beyond the pandemic.

To explain the concept to you, ManageEngine is conducting a webinar with IDC's Mark Leary. His insights on preparing your IT for the future will cover key aspects of Branch of One, such as devising robust connectivity, improved collaboration, enhanced security and ease of cloud migration in a hybrid work culture. Leary will also be revealing how technologies like SD WAN and Zero Trust will have a major impact on the future of IT.

 Webinar highlights

  • Resolving existing IT challenges to improve business outcomes
  • Understanding Branch of One to enhance IT operations management
  • Minimizing migration and implementation risks in enterprise cloud adoption
  • Predicting advancements in digital IT to prepare enterprises for the future
  • Deploying Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) to ease tasks and to improve remote staff productivity
  • Introducing new technologies predicted by analyst firms to improve hybrid work
  • Building a secure IT infrastructure even with a majority of remote workers

The date to save : August 17, 2021

Keep yourselves free at : 11.00 AM EDT

Speaker from IDC : Mark Leary, Research Director for Network Analytics and visibility

Speaker from ManageEngine: Suresh Bagavathy, Senior Technical Evangelist, ITOM

Free Zero-Trust webinar registration

Join our webinar to know more about Branch of One, and optimizing your IT!

5 Most Critical Microsoft M365 Vulnerabilities Revealed and How to Fix Them - Free Webinar

Posted in Virtualization & VM Backup

Microsoft 365 is an incredibly powerful software suite for businesses, but it is becoming increasingly targeted by people trying to steal your data. The good news is that there are plenty of ways admins can fight back and safeguard their Microsoft 365 infrastructure against attack.

 5 Most Critical Microsoft M365 Vulnerabilities and How to Fix Them

This free upcoming webinar, on June 23 and produced by Hornetsecurity/Altaro, features two enterprise security experts from the leading security consultancy Treusec - Security Team Leader Fabio Viggiani and Principal Cyber Security Advisor Hasain Alshakarti. They will explain the 5 most critical vulnerabilities in your M365 environment and what you can do to mitigate the risks they pose. To help attendees fully understand the situation, a series of live demonstrations will be performed to reveal the threats and their solutions covering:

  • O365 Credential Phishing
  • Insufficient or Incorrectly Configured MFA Settings
  • Malicious Application Registrations
  • External Forwarding and Business Email Compromise Attacks
  • Insecure AD Synchronization in Hybrid Environments

This is truly an unmissable event for all Microsoft 365 admins!

The webinar will be presented live twice on June 23 to enable as many people as possible to join the event live and ask questions directly to the expert panel of presenters. It will be presented at 2pm CEST/8am EDT/5am PDT and 7pm CEST/1pm EDT/10am PDT.

There are only 1000 seats available for each Webinar. Don’t miss out - Save your seat now!

SASE and VPNs: Reconsidering your Mobile Remote Access and Site-to-Site VPN strategy

Posted in SASE & SD-WAN Networks

sase vs vpn remote accessThe Virtual Private Network (VPN) has become the go to security solution for keeping communications between networks and endpoints secure. After all, VPNs offer a straightforward, secure method for connecting sites (a site-to-site VPN) that couldn’t justify a high-end, MPLS service, and they enable mobile users to get secure connectivity from anywhere (mobile VPN). Deployment is quick, availability is high, only requiring Internet access, and network costs relatively low given the use of affordable Internet capacity.

Yet, for all that praise, VPNs are far from perfect. They require IT to purchase and deploy separate VPN appliances, increasing capital costs and complicating maintenance. Most VPN solutions require frequent patching, user policy settings, reconfiguration, and oversite. All of which adds to the burden of attempting to maintain security. What’s more, VPNs can introduce latency into mobile connections, as well as require additional login steps, often confusing end users and adding to the burden of the help desk.

All of which issues beg the question: Is it time to drop your VPN and find a better solution for site-to-site and mobile access?

Before we answer the question, let’s take a look at the topics covered here:

Until recently, the answer to our question above would have been “no.” There wasn’t a better answer out there. However, as networking technology has evolved, an answer to the VPN conundrum may be found in Secure Access Service Edge (SASE), the successor to SD-WAN and, quite possibly, VPNs. Here’s why. 

SASE or VPN: What’s the Difference?

SASE originates from a proposal by research giant Gartner, which defined SASE as a cloud architecture model combining the functions of different network and security solutions into a unified, cloud security platform.

SASE, as envisioned by Gartner, operates as a cloud-naive service connecting all of an organization’s “edges” – including sites, mobile users, IoT devices, and cloud resources -- into a single, global secure network.  It’s cloud-native meaning that the software has all of the scalability, elasticity, and repaid deployment benefits of the cloud.

And the network is secure. We don’t just mean secure as an encrypted network, like SD-WAN. We mean one that also has a complete, embedded security stack protecting against Internet-borne threats.  More specifically Next-Generation Firewall (NGFW), CASB, SWG, ZTNA, RBI, and DNS are all part of the SASE platform.

Devices of different sorts establish encrypted tunnels to the SASE point of presence (PoP). The software in the SASE PoP authenticates connecting user and grants access to defined resources based on user identity and real-time conditions, such as the user’s location or device.

sase point of presence

Incoming traffic is inspected in a single-pass with SASE applying the complete range of security functions, optimized, and forwarded along the optimum path to its destination. As such, edges gain the best possible network experience anywhere in the world, at least that’s the theory. 

SASE Brings VPN Benefits without VPN’s Networking Weaknesses


Cisco Routers

  • SSL WebVPN
  • Securing Routers
  • Policy Based Routing
  • Router on-a-Stick

VPN Security

  • Understand DMVPN
  • GRE/IPSec Configuration
  • Site-to-Site IPSec VPN
  • IPSec Modes

Cisco Help

  • VPN Client Windows 8
  • VPN Client Windows 7
  • CCP Display Problem
  • Cisco Support App.

Windows 2012

  • New Features
  • Licensing
  • Hyper-V / VDI
  • Install Hyper-V


  • File Permissions
  • Webmin
  • Groups - Users
  • Samba Setup