Windstream Enterprise teams with Cato Networks on managed SASE

Windstream Enterprise has partnered with Cato Networks for what the U.S. service provider said is North America’s first “comprehensive managed Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) solution” combining cloud-native network and security with a completely integrated SASE offering.

That means businesses can leverage single-pane management to keep a variety of application access and security policies synchronized with constantly changing endpoint devices as users shift between multiple work environments and require varying levels of access to different applications.

Mike Frane, VP of product management for Windstream Enterprise, told Fierce that Cato’s SASE capabilities have been integrated with Windstream’s WE Connect customer service portal to enable easy configuration of services like SD-WAN, Firewall-as-a-Service, Zero Trust Network Access Secure Web Gateways and Cloud Access Security Broker.

“The Holy Grail of SASE is to have it all managed from one single security policy engine so there's no need for swivel-chairing between one configuration and another,” he said. “It’s that single policy engine that pushes out to all the different components and keeps everything in sync.”

He added that the integration of Cato’s SASE capabilities is the natural next step in Windstream’s six-year evolution as a managed SD-WAN provider. While SD-WAN enhances public internet routing and connection flexibility with centralized management, leveraging the internet comes with a need for greater security that only has been amplified by the increasing decentralization of users, devices and applications using SD-WANs.

Gartner, the research firm that first described the SASE concept, has said at least 60% of enterprises will have explicit strategies and timelines for SASE adoption by 2025, up from just 10% in 2020. Numerous service providers are attacking the growing market with different approaches, and while Cato has other managed service provider and reseller partners, Frane argued that another distinction Windstream brings is its experience and ability managing underlay networks that are necessary to support an integrated, managed SD-WAN and SASE offering.

Because SD-WAN is a virtual overlay architecture, the physical network it rides on may become an afterthought for some users, But as Frane said, “The underlay is inextricably tied to the overlay. As an MSP, we have a very wide variety of network access types customers can purchase from Ethernet to broadband and cellular all across the country from multiple underlying providers, and we become that single back to pat for their network and their network security needs.” 

Frane also said Windstream Enterprise is working closely with Cato on architecture and engineering roadmaps to help inform future features and functionality.