Sassy Cato

I am not cybersecurity guy at all. Cybersecurity, to me, is a hodgepodge of many things. It is complex and it is confusing. But to every organization that has to deal with cloud SaaS (software-as-a-service) applications, mobile devices, work from home, and the proliferation of network connections from everywhere to the edge and back, strong cybersecurity without the burden of sluggish performance and without the complexity of stitching the cybersecurity point solutions would be a god send.

About 3 1/2 years ago, when I was an independent consultant, I was asked by a friend to help him (I was also looking for a gig) sell a product. It was Aryaka Networks, an SD-WAN solution. It was new to me, although I had some MPLS (multi protocol label switching) knowledge from some point in my career. But the experience with Aryaka at the people level was not too encouraging, with several people I was dealing with, switching positions or leaving Aryaka, including their CEO at the time, John Peters. After about 4 months or so, my friend lost confidence and decided to switch to Cato Networks.

Cato Networks opened up my eyes to what I believe cybersecurity should be. Simple, performant, and with many of the previous point requirements like firewall, VPN, zero trust networks, identity management, intrusion prevention, application gateways, threat detection and response, remote access, WAN acceleration and several more, all beautifully crafted into a single cloud-based service. There was an enlightenment moment for a greenhorn like me as I learned more about the Cato solution. That singularity of distributed global networking and cybersecurity blew me away.

Disappeared from Gartner after 2018

In 2018, Cato Networks was listed as an up-an-coming visionary in the Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for WAN Edge Infrastructure.

Gartner Magic Quadrant for WAN Edge Infrastructure 2018

The following year in 2019, they disappeared from the Gartner® Magic Quadrant™, much to my surprise. Then this new market segment called SASE (Secure Access Service Edge) emerged, and Cato Networks was one of the first (if not the first) vendors to define SASE.

Everybody hates SASE

All of a sudden, the entire SD-WAN market flipped. Every vendor was claiming SASE almost overnight, just because Gartner® coined that term. VMware® (through the acquisition of Velocloud), Silverpeak®, Riverbed®, Aryaka Networks, Cisco, Zscaler, and so many more started to switch their marketing speak to SASE, SASE, SASE almost all the time. And I believe that term SASE convoluted the cybersecurity market. Many networking people I spoke to had a bit of disdain for what SASE is. The cybersecurity people were in 2 minds as well, trying to make sense of this new market definition that had just collided in full force with the networking world.

SASE convergence

I get it (from Cato Networks)

From a non-cybersecurity professional, a layman even, I get SASE. From the way Cato Networks describes SASE to me, in my own nutshell, it is the convergence of global accelerated networking with an almost full mesh of cybersecurity defenses along with analytics and observability. And the SASE service from Cato is evolving, adding more and more relevant technologies to its carrier grade cloud acceleration network with native cybersecurity defenses. Their rise is in no doubt fueled by the pandemic situation that has moved everyone to work from everywhere, where cybersecurity at all fronts is mission and business critical.

I got certified (from Cato Networks)

The gig with my friend was just over a year (it ended July 2019), but I got attracted to Cato. I still follow them closely and getting a dose of EDM mails from them weekly to keep abreast of their development in this nascent SASE market. For the fun of it, I even got myself certified to Cato SASE Expert Level 2.

Cato Networks SASE Expert Level 2

Not an expert but sassy

I do not consider myself an “Expert”. Far from it. The only cybersecurity practices I have are the usual firewall-cmd and ufw commands I run on my CentOS™ and Ubuntu® laptops at home and almost exclusively with ports 22, 80 and 443. I am just a bumpkin in cybersecurity land.

But I like the sassiness of how Cato Network describes SASE. Their marketing has always been full of fun and frolic, and this has made SASE easy and simple for a simpleton like me to digest. They have taught me more about global scale networking and cybersecurity better in the last 2+ years than I have taught myself in my entire career.

I am a newbie. I am an enthusiast. I am a fan.



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About cfheoh

I am a technology blogger with 30 years of IT experience. I write heavily on technologies related to storage networking and data management because those are my areas of interest and expertise. I introduce technologies with the objectives to get readers to know the facts and use that knowledge to cut through the marketing hypes, FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) and other fancy stuff. Only then, there will be progress. I am involved in SNIA (Storage Networking Industry Association) and between 2013-2015, I was SNIA South Asia & SNIA Malaysia non-voting representation to SNIA Technical Council. I currently employed at iXsystems as their General Manager for Asia Pacific Japan.

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