The Challenge: Fast, Reliable, Cost Efficient WAN
Global sales and distribution firms need fast, reliable connections among locations to get business done and stay competitive. Such is the case with this leading sales and distribution company in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector.
“We had two MPLS links with failover at each business unit,” says the CIO, “but it seemed as if one line was always down for maintenance or some other issue.”
The firm has a portfolio of local and global brands that it sells and distributes through office locations in the Caucasus, Southwest Pacific, Middle East, and Southern Africa. Before Cato, it connected offices via MPLS and then a legacy global backbone provider. Carrier MPLS was expensive and establishing new lines between branches took a long time. “We often had to wait more than three or four months for a new connection,” says the company’s CIO and VP of IT. Reliability was also less than perfect. “We had two MPLS links with failover at each business unit, but it seemed as if one line was always down for maintenance or some other issue.”
Fed up with carrier MPLS, the company switched to the legacy, global backbone provider. “The performance and reliability improved, but bandwidth was only 2 Mbit/s and the service was still expensive,” says the CIO. At two days, deployment was considerably faster, but required some tech support and configuration of access control lists, policies, and BGP.
CIO Investigates SD-WAN, Chooses Cato
Always on the lookout for an easier, less expensive alternative, the CIO turned to his partner IT firm to investigate SD-WAN providers. Eventually, he decided to set up a Proof of Concept (POC) deployment with Cato in Georgia and New Zealand. “With our partner firm, we ran a lengthy POC because we wanted to check everything out, including the availability, SLA, support response time, end-to-end service, and, of course, the actual user experience,” says the CIO. “Our current solution had features such as data optimization and caching to optimize the user experience. We wanted to make sure Cato could provide equivalent capabilities.”
Cato connects all global 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, including anti-malware, next generation firewall and IPS.
Connecting a location to Cato is just a matter of installing a simple preconfigured Cato Socket appliance, which links automatically to the nearest of Cato’s more than 55 globally dispersed points of presence (PoPs). At the local PoP, Cato provides an onramp to its global backbone and security services. The backbone is not only privately managed for zero packet loss and 5 9’s uptime, it also has built in WAN optimization to dramatically improve throughput. Cato monitors network traffic and selects the optimum path for each packet across the Cato backbone. Mobile users run across the same backbone, benefiting from the same optimization features and improving remote access performance.
“The huge increase in bandwidth with Cato will come in very handy when we adopt Office 365 and have to distribute Windows upgrades to all our systems,”
The firm started with a 50 Mbit/s Cato link and was immediately pleased with the results. “Much to our surprise the user experience was the same or better than with our current provider,” says the CIO. The company relies to a great extent on SAP for its ERP application and SAP performance was fast and reliable. “The huge increase in bandwidth with Cato will come in very handy when we adopt Office 365 and have to distribute Windows upgrades to all our systems,” says the CIO.
Happy with performance, the CIO considered other added value the company could get with Cato compared to its current provider and other market alternatives. “Unlike our former provider, Cato came with a management console that let us monitor and control WAN traffic and configure DNS and some aspects of routing,” says the CIO. “With the current provider we had to open up a support ticket and wait for them to make those changes.” The CIO also liked the analytics dashboard and his experience with Cato support was excellent. “Any issues that came up were resolved very quickly.”
Sold on Cato, the CIO moved on to contract negotiation and found that a positive experience as well. “The Cato sales division was very flexible,” he says.
Fast Deployment, Lots of Icing on the Cake
The company replaced all its current WAN connections with Cato. Deployment at each location was surprisingly quick. “With our legacy global, backbone provider, we needed their help setting policies, setting up ACLs, and configuring BGP. It took a few days,” says the CIO. “With Cato, setup took only a few hours. All we had to do was plug the appliance into the router port and watch it connect automatically to the nearest Cato PoP.”
“Amazingly, even with Cato’s bandwidth, performance, management, and monitoring, the company was able to slash connectivity costs by 60 percent. That alone is a huge win for us,” says the CIO.
However, the CIO is also excited about taking advantage of Cato’s security and remote access capabilities down the road, saving even more money and managing it all under a single interface. “We’re looking at using Cato to replace our current firewall, VPN, and unified endpoint solution, which is very expensive right now” says the CIO. “Getting all those services in one package would save us a lot in costs and be much less complex in terms of management. We can only win.” The company plans to investigate all these possibilities when it gets into the next budget creation process.
Cato’s fast cloud access and integration are other features that intrigue the CIO. “We’re looking at moving to a hybrid cloud IT architecture based on AWS, Salesforce, and Office 365 with Microsoft Azure as well, so that’s three different cloud solutions.”
All in all, Cato has been a big win and there are more wins to come.