The Challenge: Fast SD-WAN Deployment, Reliability
As legacy WAN solutions prove less and less practical in the age of mobility and the cloud, many organizations have turned to more flexible SD-WAN alternatives to connect office locations to the datacenter and cloud services over a variety of connection types. Securing all those locations requires equipping each site with enterprise-level security solutions. Unfortunately, many organizations have found fulfilling the promise of SD-WAN a challenge, particularly on their first try.
Such was the case with AmesburyTruth, a leading global provider of window and door components. The company sought a flexible way to connect 12 of its locations to the datacenter, the cloud, and each other. AmesburyTruth approached a major telecommunications provider, which set it up with an SD-WAN and security solution.
To say that the solution did not fulfill its promise would be an understatement, according to AmesburyTruth Chief Information Officer Pat Bayer.
“Our legacy SD-WAN couldn’t meet our needs,” says Bayer.
“We had every type of problem you can imagine. CPU utilization would go through the roof, appliances would crash, packets would be discarded all over the place. When we needed support, we had to go through the telecom provider, which didn’t know the product very well.”
Only when a problem moved high enough in the support chain to the manufacturer, would it be addressed. “It was just a nightmare,” says Bayer.
To keep SD-WAN appliances running, Bayer’s staff had to reboot all of them at least once a week.
“We spent all of our time trying to implement the previous solution. We still hadn’t gotten there when we decided it was time to move on,” says Bayer.
The business impact was considerable. . “We had people dropping calls and company-wide-meetings with long pauses of silence and people dropping off,” says Bayer, “Poor application performance hampered productivity and business agility.
AmesburyTruth relied heavily on an ERP application that demanded a reliable, very-low-latency connection. All its branch and remote users depended on fast, reliable connections to datacenter ERP servers for real-time information critical to sales and other business functions. “Our SD-WAN solution just couldn’t deliver on that at all,” says Bayer.
Security and management were also a disappointment. “Visibility was almost nonexistent,” says Bayer. “It was extremely difficult to tell if the firewall and other security functions were doing what they were supposed to do.”
AmesburyTruth Ends Contract, Finds Cato’s SASE Platform
Bayer and his team were through with the legacy SD-WAN solution. That’s when Bayer found Cato, thanks to a camera surveillance provider Bayer was looking to do business with. “We looked at all the SD-WAN and security solutions from major vendors,” says Bayer. “I asked my contact at the surveillance provider if in his travels he had heard of anything that other organizations liked. He said in his experience Cato was the only solution people didn’t have issues with. He was reluctant to talk about anyone else.”
Since it had been burned in the past, AmesburyTruth set up proof of concept (POC) deployments for every single solution under consideration. “We really wanted see firsthand what really worked, not just what people said worked.”
“None of the other solutions we looked at had the simplicity that Cato’s SASE platform offers,” says Bayer. “We found that really interesting and liked all traffic visualization and analytics Cato provided.”
AmesburyTruth deployed Cato at three of its sites for the POC. With its previous SD-WAN solution it would take more than a day to get each site up and running. “Even then we’d come out of the day with an extremely long punch list of issues.”
“It was unreal, how Cato just worked where every other system we tried took a lot of configuring and tinkering behind the scenes to get everything to flow right,” says Bayer. “Cato was just head and shoulders above everyone else.”
“Our first Cato site took 30 to 45 minutes to get up and running,” says Bayer. “After that one we were spinning up new sites in 15 to 20 minutes. It was unreal, how Cato just worked where every other system we tried took a lot of configuring and tinkering behind the scenes to get everything to flow right. Cato was just head and shoulders above everyone else.”
Cato: It’s the Difference Between Night and Day
Deploying Cato to the seven other sites took place over the holidays. “The hardest part was an MPLS network we deployed from our previous vendor for low-latency applications. But getting the MPLS network up, running and working with everything else, including Cato, was the biggest part of the transition.”
Cato connects all enterprise network resources–including branch locations, mobile users, and physical and cloud datacenters–into a single secure, global, cloud-native network service. With all WAN and Internet traffic consolidated in the cloud, Cato applies a suite of robust security services to protect all traffic. AmesburyTruth continued to connect internal locations with MPLS, but any external traffic, including cloud and mobile, ran over Cato’s global private backbone, which interconnects across multiple tier-1 network providers via more than 50 points of presence (PoPs). Cato monitors network traffic and selects the optimum path for each packet across the Cato backbone. Mobile users run across the same backbone, so remote access performance is excellent.
Since the transition, the new network has been running much more smoothly. “All the previous network performance and application issues are gone,” says Bayer. “No more dropped packets. No more meeting interruptions. No more rebooting. Cato has been rock-solid.”
Visibility has improved dramatically. “With Cato we see in no uncertain terms that this traffic was blocked by that firewall rule,” says Bayer. “It’s like night and day. And now that so many people are working at home because of COVID-19, we’re really grateful to have that extra layer of security and visibility that Cato offers.”
“We couldn’t be happier,” says Bayer. “Cato is one of those things we wish we had done a long time ago.”