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Cato Says, 'Look Ma, No Hands!' to SD-WAN Management

Cato Networks today announced a fully managed service option that allows businesses using its cloud-based software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) platform to offload network and security configuration, as well as change management, to the vendor or one of its partners.
With the new Hands-free Management service, customers get a turnkey SD-WAN, with the provider taking care of 100% of the operations. This makes Cato the first provider to offer self-service operations, co-managed services, and a fully managed option as part of an SD-WAN portfolio.
Whereas DIY is the predominant deployment model for legacy networks, with a managed service model in use at about 35% of companies, according to my research, I don’t expect the same for SD-WAN. In fact, I expect the numbers to flip, and then some, with about 75% of businesses using either a fully managed or co-managed service. I attribute this drastic change to the complexity of SD-WANs compared to traditional networks.
With legacy networks, you choose your MPLS provider and away you go. With the hub-and-spoke architecture reigning supreme, the only decision is in determining how much bandwidth to allocate for each link. With SD-WAN, you have many more options to consider: what kind of broadband to use, where to deploy security, how to provide direct cloud access from branch locations, what to do with mobile workers, and a host of other issues. It’s simple math -- an equation with one variable is much easier to solve than one with 10, and SD-WANs have many more options.
In no way do I mean to suggest that you should take this complexity as a reason NOT to do SD-WAN. The increased levels of agility, cost savings, improvements in application performance, and other benefits offset the negatives. Businesses can do so much more with an SD-WAN than they can with a traditional WAN, which is why I recommend moving to the new model as fast as possible.
Cato offers a range of managed services in an effort to meet any company’s skill level. The latest service, Hands-free Management, is designed for companies where the organization wants IT to focus on running the business and outsource network operations. In addition to hands-free SD-WAN management, Cato’s managed services portfolio comprises:
  • Managed threat detection and response (MDR) -- continuously scans the network for compromised, malware-infected endpoints. With its MDR service, Cato combines machine learning algorithms that inspect network traffic for indicators of compromise with human verification of detected anomalies. Cato experts then guide customers on remediating infected endpoints.
  • Intelligent last-mile management -- provides continuous monitoring of the last mile. In case of an outage or performance degradation, Cato will work with the ISP to resolve the issue, providing all relevant information and keeping the customer informed on progress. This is one of the biggest differentiators between Cato and traditional MSPs, which typically don’t take ownership of last-mile issues.
  • Rapid site deployment -- provides remote assistance in deploying the Cato Sockets zero-touch SD-WAN device -- no truck rolls or on-premises help required.
Cato’s management model is well-designed for the digital business era. Most MSPs tightly couple the overlay and underlay networks. This makes for an easier sell, but limits agility since businesses are still subject to telco costs and elongated deployment times. Cato, on the other hand, allows customers to bring their own last-mile (underlay) services or use those provided by Cato or its partners. These can then connect into the Cato global network (overlay), at last unlocking the network from the limitations of traditional telco services.
The distributed nature of Cato’s cloud-centric service is ideally suited to businesses that need to tie in not just branch offices but also mobile and cloud resources. The Hands-free service removes the management burden and enables IT to focus on running the business.