Windstream Enterprise has integrated its secure remote access (SRA) user capabilities into its WE Connect portal as part of its move to a SASE offering.
The blending of SRA control with WE Connect enables co-management of a service such as SD-WAN. Windstream's SRA works with both of Windstream Enterprise's SD-WAN technologies, which are powered by VMware/VeloCloud and Fortinet, as well as with its MPLS offering.
Windstream Enterprise’s SRA ensures connections to the network are encrypted over the internet, and gives enterprises control over network access, internal applications and resources. By integrating WE Connect with SRA management, customers have visibility and control over remote worker access, cloud-based next generation firewalls and SD-WAN through a single digital interface, all of which integrates the key elements of SASE.
Secure access service edge (SASE) blends SD-WAN, security functions, such as zero trust, and subscriber policies to, among other things, enable users to access their connectivity services safely from anywhere, which is even more important during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Gartner analysts came up with SASE last year, and since then it has picked up considerable steam in 2020. SASE converges the functions of network and security point solutions into a unified, global cloud-native service, according to Gartner.
"Digital transformation coupled with the pandemic have driven an unprecedented wave of remote and cloud-based work that is taxing legacy network models, accelerating network transformations to SD-WAN, and driving new security challenges," said Mike Flannery, chief marketing officer at Windstream Enterprise, in a statement. "Our expertise and cutting-edge, cloud-based next generation firewalls, SD-WAN and secure remote access technology gives businesses peace-of-mind that their network is highly reliable, efficient and secure.”
Windstream launched its new WE Connect customer portal early last year and has made several enhancements to it since then. WE Connect was designed to provide a better user experience with across Windstream Enterprise's SD-WAN, Cloud Security, and OfficeSuite unified communications services and an applications with a "single pane of glass" view.
In October, Windstream Enterprise upgraded its WE Connect Management Portal to give users more visibility across their SD-WAN networks. The WE Connect Insight Engine offers customers a set of visuals that show performance analysis and trends in their applications, network access and devices across all of their locations. The insights come across dashboards in order for users to quickly identify the variances or hot spots that need to be looked at ahead of fixing them when necessary.
Windstream launched its first SD-WAN service in combination with the SD-WAN assets it picked up from the EarthLink deal in 2017. Windstream then offered a VMware/VeloCloud SD-WAN service three years ago, and added next gen firewall vendor Fortinet last year as an additional SD-WAN offering.
Windstream has continually upgraded its SD-WAN offerings. Also in October, Windstream Enterprise provided its SD-WAN users voice command features by adding Google Assistant and Amazon's Alexa to its OfficeSuite UC portfolio. By using Alexa and Google Assistant, Windstream Enterprise said network administrators would be able to work more efficiently.
In July, Windstream Enterprise added white glove elements to its Fortinet-based SD-WAN service. With the addition of SD-WAN Concierge, Windstream added a managed service that delivers a variety of high-level service benefits, including technical consulting resources, advanced service delivery, and an assigned technical service manager who provides guidance and support.
As of the second quarter, Windstream had 3,200 SD-WAN customers under contract representing over 29,000 endpoint locations, which it Windstream claimed made it the largest SD-WAN provider in the U.S. Privately-held Windstream emerged from its Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September, which means it no longer holds earnings calls.