Windstream’s Cato Networks-Powered SASE An ‘Evolution’ Of SD-WAN, Managed Security Portfolio

‘We’ve been offering premises-based and cloud-based security for eight-plus years, so it’s really an evolution of where we’ve been and a foreshadowing of the company that we’ll be in the future,’ Windstream Vice President of Product Management Mike Frane says of the new offering.


Windstream Enterprise is teaming up with cloud networking specialist Cato Networks to release its first Secure Access Service Edge offering.

Windstream Enterprise SASE powered by Cato, unveiled Tuesday, combines cloud-native networking and security capabilities to help businesses with hybrid users or employees constantly on the move and in new locations to access everything they need while managing application, routing and security policies from one place, according to Little Rock, Ark.-based Windstream.

Windstream SASE is immediately available through Windstream’s channel partners, which are selling the majority of the company’s SD-WAN business today, said Mike Frane, Windstream’s vice president of product management.

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[Related: Windstream To Partners: ‘We Have A Lot Of Fence-Mending To Do’ ]

The offering combines SD-WAN technology from Cato Networks, the foundation for SASE, as well as security elements such as Firewall as a Service, Secure Web Gateways, Zero Trust Network Access and Cloud Access Security Broker technology.

“There’s not an SD-WAN conversation that goes on without us talking about security, too,” Frane said. Windstream Enterprise SASE will help partners evolve their SD-WAN practices and have more conversations about business outcomes with their customers, he added.

Windstream Enterprise SASE joins the company’s portfolio of existing managed offerings, such as Windstream’s OfficeSuite UC, managed network security and managed router solutions. Cutsomers will have the option of a co-managed or fully managed SASE offering with Windstream handling the management, Frane said.

“Fundamentally, this isn’t new to Windstream. We’ve been offering premises-based and cloud-based security for eight-plus years, so it’s really an evolution of where we’ve been and a foreshadowing of the company that we’ll be in the future,” Frane said.

Windstream’s integrated networking and security portfolio is starting with a Cato-powered offering, but the company plans to build offerings with its existing SD-WAN partners: VMware and Fortinet.

“This is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the portfolio that you’re going to see from Windstream,” he said. “We’re full steam ahead with VMware and Fortinet on their offerings as well, but we wanted to bring in a technology that was ready today as we work with our other vendors to evolve their offerings. Cato is off the shelf and ready to go.”

Anthony D’Angelo, Cato’s vice president of global channel sales and business development, told CRN that the company is “very excited” to be partnering with Windstream Enterprise.

“It’s a relationship that underscores what Cato has been saying for the past seven years: If you’re going to meet enterprise requirements for agility, world-class security and performance, you need a platform built with those characteristics,” he said.

Cato comes to market with its cloud-native SASE platform and management services for service providers and channel partners. “No other SASE platform on the market empowers service providers and channel partners to deliver SASE service in weeks, deploy new locations in days or enable enterprises to make changes in seconds. With Cato, enterprises and the channel are ready for whatever comes next,” D’Angelo said.

Windstream chose to go to market first with Cato Networks because it has always offered a combination of security and SD-WAN elements as part of its SASE offering, Frane said.

“This offering was really built from the ground up with a single policy engine and one set of rules that controls the security elements, as opposed to acquiring pieces and pulling it into a homogenous solution,” he said. “Cato kept coming to the top of the list, not only from a functionality perspective, but a road map and vision perspective as well. We like that we can come to the market with Cato as a managed networking security offering.”