Cato Networks has added an instant-on capability to its software-defined wide area network service (SD-WAN) service to make it easier for IT teams to provide employees with remote access to applications.
Dave Greenfield, technology evangelist for Cato Networks, said rather than having to configure and install a virtual private network (VPN) client on every device to access applications, IT teams can simply share a URL to provide network access via a single sign-on protocol without requiring client software. At a time when many IT teams are scrambling to allow every employee to work at home to help combat the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, the Cato Software Defined Perimeter (SDP) service provides an alternative approach to achieve that goal at scale, he said.
The Cato SDP network is an instance of a global SD-WAN service co-managed by Cato Networks. IT teams still control who gains access to what applications using multifactor authentication, while Cato Networks manages the underlying network and security infrastructure, including all the firewalls and endpoint protection software. As such, Greenfield said, Cato SDP is one of the first instances of a service based on what Gartner is now describing as a secure access service edge (SASE) architecture.
Greenfield said trying to scale access using legacy VPN software is problematic because it requires IT teams to acquire more software licenses and bandwidth, while end users are provided with passwords to access the corporate network, which can be easily hacked. And, perhaps most problematic, most VPNs limit the number of simultaneous users allowed on the network.
Cato SDP provides access to a zero trust network environment that only provides access to applications that end users have been specifically authorized to use, said Greenfield, noting all of that can be accomplished in as little as 10 minutes.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, Greenfield said Cato Networks has seen a sharp increase in usage of its global network, which consists of points-of-presence residing in third-party data centers distributed around the world. This setup makes it possible to optimize application experiences based on where end users are physically accessing the internet.
It may be a few months to as long as two years before the COVID-19 pandemic subsides. What today may be viewed as a singular disruptive event could very well be a harbinger for how organizations will need to work from now on. Even once IT teams get everyone in their organization up and running from home, many of them will have to ask themselves how long they are prepared to manage IT as a remote service. The emergence of SASE-based services provides an alternative co-managed approach that allows IT teams to rely on an external service provider without having to give up control over their applications to a managed service provider (MSP).
Naturally, it may be a while before the current crisis subsides enough for organizations to realize they may need to fundamentally change the way they consume IT. The only thing that is for certain right now is that conversation is all but inevitable.