Global connectivity is top of mind for many IT teams at organizations of all sizes. We are currently in the middle of a dramatic shift in business and technology practice, as users are becoming more mobile while applications are being transitioned to the cloud. This shift will only accelerate as companies will look to leverage the speed and agility of cloud services with the operational, cost and quality advantages of a geographically distributed work force. While Covid-19 has contributed to the acceleration of this shift, the change was always inevitable once technology was ready. Legacy connectivity and security products have long been a barrier to progress.
With uncanny timing, Gartner introduce the Secure Access Service Edge or SASE near the end of 2019, just before the Covid-19 virus started to gain global traction. SASE represents the shift away from castle & moat security with resources siloed into just a few corporate datacenters. After all, if organizations are consuming collaboration and productivity tools from the cloud, why not security and connectivity too?
While there is much buzz around SASE with security and networking vendors, and some debate over what products and services fit the SASE moniker, the intention is simple: leveraging economies of scale, organizations should purchase SASE as a cloud delivered service with global presence that brings security closer to the user. The user can be remote, mobile or in a corporate owned facility, regardless of physical location, the user’s access and security posture should remain consistent.
Figure 1: Cato PoP Map (click to enlarge)
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At Cato Networks we built the first SASE solution, starting way back in 2015. We’ve grown to 70+ Point-of-Presence (PoPs) globally that fully converge networking and security into a single platform. With our experience we believe that a global private backbone is an essential component of a true SASE solution. If we consider that the goal is consistent access and security with reduced cost and complexity, we must recognize that the ability of a user to access resources applies not just to access controls and services, but also to the usability and reliability of that user’s access. Essentially –users must have predictable performance to be productive.
Reliability and predictability of connectivity isn’t a new concept or focus area for technical teams. Organizations have been using MPLS and other methods to achieve this for years. But MPLS is expensive, resulting in reliable, low bandwidth links to just a few places. Don’t forget that this approach completely neglected remote users who traditionally have had to VPN across the public Internet to reach datacenter security and resources.
Fast forwarding to today, most SASE vendors position their services as a way to reduce or eliminateMPLS, but completely ignore the unpredictability of the public Internet. Cato’s service was architected with this in mind, and we connected our PoPs with a global private backbone of multiple tier 1 providers. Our customer’s packets aren’t taking the cheapest possible route across tier 3 providers, instead taking the most efficient route to the destination. Combined with our WAN optimization capabilities, Cato ensures reliable, predictable performance for all users and locations.