A sit down with Windstream Enterprise CTO on Security Service Edge

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Windstream Enterprise recently announced the arrival of North America’s first and only comprehensive managed Security Service Edge (SSE) solution, powered by Cato Networks—offering sophisticated and cloud-native security capabilities that can be rapidly implemented on almost any network for near-immediate ironclad protection. In the spirit of partnership, we sat down with Art Nichols, CTO of Windstream, to share insights into this SSE announcement and what this partnership brings to light. 

Why did you decide to roll out SSE?  

We are excited to expand upon our single-vendor security offerings with the launch of this single-vendor cloud-native SSE solution, powered by Cato Networks. This SSE architecture delivers near immediate and cost-effective ways for clients to protect their network, and the users and resources attached to it. It also supports the expanded remote access to cloud-based applications that customers and employees alike must utilize.  

By rolling out SSE to our customers, our ultimate goal is to provide them with a seamless journey towards improving their organization’s security posture. Most IT leaders are aware that in this era of constant digital change, businesses must make room for greater cloud migration, rising remote work demands and new security threats. SSE will help futureproof their network security by migrating away from outdated and disjointed security solutions that are limited in their ability to support customer and employee needs for greater use of cloud resources. 

Cato SSE 360: Finally, SSE with Total Visibility and Control | Download the White Paper

Why did you choose Cato’s SSE platform?  

Partnering with Cato Networks was no doubt the right decision for Windstream Enterprise. While we considered multiple technology partners, Cato’s solution was the only fully unified cloud-native solution. This architecture enables businesses to eliminate point solutions and on-premises devices by integrating the best available security components into their existing network environments without disruption. This partnership allowed us to enter the Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) and SSE market fast and be a key part of it as security needs continue to rapidly evolve.  

Cato Networks is different from the competition because it was built to be a cloud-native SASE solution. As such, Cato’s technology offers a better customer experience with greater visibility across the platform, as well as artificial intelligence that can swiftly evaluate all security layers and provide a faster resolution to security breaches and vulnerabilities.  

Partnering with Cato has given us quite a competitive edge—and it’s not just about the technology (although it’s a big part of it); we feel that we get the unique opportunity to partner with the inventor of a true 360-degree SASE platform. Cato’s SSE solution pairs perfectly with our professional services and market-leading service portfolio—backed by our industry-first service guarantees and our dedicated team of cybersecurity experts. We could not be more pleased with this partnership and look forward to what the future will bring. 

You’re already offering SASE, powered by Cato Networks. How will this be different?  

SSE is a subset to SASE, which is meant to describe the convergence of cloud security functions. SASE takes a broader and more holistic approach to secure and optimized access by addressing both optimization of the user experience and securing all access and traffic against threats, attacks, and data loss.  

What we’ve announced has similarities with a SASE solution in almost every way, but unlike SASE, an SSE solution can by overlayed onto any existing network, such as a SD-WAN, allowing it to be deployed near-immediately to secure all endpoints, users and applications. Because of this, SSE brings an added level of simplicity in that no network changes are required to implement this security framework.  

What is driving the demand for solutions like SSE and SASE? 

Gartner has predicted that “By 2025, 80% of organizations seeking to procure SSE-related security services will purchase a consolidated SSE solution, rather than stand-alone cloud access security broker, secure web gateway and ZTNA offerings, up from 15% in 2021.” These means there are many enterprises that are, or soon will be, searching for a comprehensive SSE solution. And since security for networks, applications and data continues to be a top concern for most C-level and IT executives, there are several reasons backing the strong demand for SSE and SASE: 

  • Cybercriminals are becoming incredibly sophisticated in the ever-expanding threat landscape, and data breaches come with high price tags that can damage brand reputations and wallets. 
  • Legacy networks were built around physical locations that don’t scale easily. because they are premises based. Premises-based disjointed point solutions from multiple vendors often require manual maintenance. 
  • With more applications moving to the cloud, SSE is a cloud-native framework specifically built for modern work environments (hybrid and remote). It delivers a self-maintaining service that continuously enhances all its components, resulting in reduced IT overhead and allowing enterprises to shift focus to business-critical activities. It also no longer makes sense for businesses to backhaul internet traffic though data center firewalls. 

What can customers gain from a managed SSE solution? 

SSE is a proven way to improve an organization’s security posture by establishing a global fabric that connects all edges into a unified security platform and enables consistent policy enforcement. By choosing a managed SSE solution, you get near-instant protection on any network—integrating the best available cloud-native security components from Cato Networks into your existing network environment without any disruption. Customers gain this ironclad security architecture that seamlessly implements zero trust access, ensuring that all users only have access to company-authorized applications and relentlessly defends against anomalies, cyberthreats and sensitive data loss. And with Windstream Enterprise as your managed service provider for Cato’s SSE technology, you get complete visibility via our WE Connect portal, along with the opportunity to integrate this view with additional Windstream solutions, such as OfficeSuite UC® for voice and collaboration and SD-WAN for network connectivity and access management. That means one single interface to control all your IT managed services—backed by industry-first service guarantees—to create real help you succeed in your businesses, on your terms. 

Not to mention, we will act as an extension of your security team—so, not only do you seamlessly integrate these security components into one comprehensive offering, but you can rely on one trusted partner to deliver it all, with white glove support from our dedicated team of Cybersecurity Operations Center (CSOC) experts. This goes along way for organizations who are looking to increase their cybersecurity investments, while also adhering to the limitations posed by the ongoing IT skills gap that is leading to shrinking IT and Security teams.   

To learn more about SSE from Windstream Enterprise, powered by Cato Networks technology, visit windstreamenterprise.com/sse  

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