How Redner’s Markets Transformed the Retail Experience by Transforming its Network with Cato


How Redner’s Markets Transformed the Retail Experience by Transforming its Network with Cato

Affordable MPLS Alternative
Regional SASE

Grocers may not be the first industry that comes to mind when one thinks of digital transformation challenges. But between the use of smart shelves, just on time delivery, online ordering and more grocers and retailers in general have relied on digital transformation to stay competitive.

The same was true for Redner’s Markets. The Pennsylvania-based grocer relied on technology extensively to keep competitive, but it was technology that was posing a problem for employee-owned, family-run grocery chain. The staff was unable to place clear voice calls across the company’s network. Customer-facing loyalty applications weren’t working. Some of the grocer’s pharmacies couldn’t fax in their orders. Employees complained and customers were kept waiting.

All of which was interfering with the company’s business. “We just want to provide quality food to our communities and provide a great and reliable place to work,” said Nick Hidalgo, VP of Information Technology at Redner’s Markets.

Redner’s problem was that its network wasn’t keeping up with growth.  The business has grown from its founding with two stores in 1970 to 64 U.S. warehouse markets and convenience stores today.

In addition to employee- and customer-facing problems, Redner’s faced difficulties getting its several network systems to work together. The network operations team needed multiple skill sets for multiple providers’ technologies. Delivering policy consistency over various vendor platforms throughout the company was a significant challenge. Disaster recovery was impacted as data replication between sites lagged an hour or two behind real-time. Employees faced complications with two-factor authentication.

Hidalgo and his team found that the network problems were largely caused by their security architecture. For the company’s previous firewall to gain sufficient insight, all the company’s traffic had to be first backhauled across the internet to Redner’s Markets’ datacenter. The additional latency imposed by that backhaul was disrupting Redner’s applications and processes.

The Platform Offers a Better Way

Hidalgo began looking for a solution, defining his requirements and speaking with his incumbent vendors.  Quickly he realized that trying to solve each point problem would lead to integration challenges, longer time to value, and still fail to deliver the visibility into the network that he wanted.  

“We turned to our partner Avail, a team of technology procurement and management advisors. They recommended considering a SASE platform and suggested we try Cato,” Hidalgo said, “We took the interview and 45 minutes later were blown away by the solution and ready to sign a PoC.”

We took the interview and 45 minutes later were blown away by the solution and ready to sign a PoC.”

Cato SASE Cloud optimally connects all enterprise network resources, including branch locations, the hybrid workforce, and physical and cloud datacenters, into a secure global, cloud-native service. Cato connects locations with its simple Cato Socket appliance that automatically links to one of Cato’s ~90 Points of Presence (PoP) locations, all interconnected by Cato’s fast, global private backbone. Remote users automatically connect to the nearest PoP using Cato Client and Clientless access, and Cloud resources connect using IPsec tunnels, vSockets, or for large capacity connections, Cato Cloud Interconnect.

The Cato Single Pass Cloud Engine (SPACE) software runs in all PoPs, converging multiple network security functions for flow control and segmentation (NGFW), threat prevention (SWG, IPS, NGAM, DNS Security, RBI), application and data protection (CASB, DLP, ZTNA), and threat detection and incident response (XDR and EPP) into a cloud-native software stack. Cato has autonomous systems and processes sustaining the evolution of service capabilities, resiliency, optimal performance, scalability, global reach, and security posture, requiring no additional customer IT involvement. 

The Cato platform vastly simplified the Redner’s network, enabling Redner’s to remove the head-end firewall at the corporate data center and disaster recovery site, as well as aggregators that were feeding those firewalls. “Transitioning to Cato allowed us to establish direct traffic paths from the branches, leading to a remarkable 10x performance boost and vastly improved visibility,” Hidalgo said.

Redner was able to replace SD-WAN solutions from another vendor. Reducing the number of systems supported eliminated the need for Redner’s IT team to maintain skills on multiple systems.

Cato’s policy management tools solved the struggle to maintain uniform policies across the network. “With Cato’s built-in management tools, we set policies, and they apply everywhere. Previously, we set bandwidth priorities and hoped they worked on our three different implementations,” Hidalgo said.

He added, “The convergence of security and network in one solution—one pane of glass—was where we wanted to go. Cato provided us with that. Other solutions didn’t make sense.”

From User Complaints to User Kudos

With Cato SASE Cloud, faxing over the network became reliable and hassle-free. Difficulties with Redner’s customer-facing loyalty application have been resolved.

Changes in IT infrastructure are generally not met with cheers from end users. But with Cato deployed, Hidalgo says he’s seen a qualitative difference from users. “We have gotten rave feedback. They see a performance change. They don’t need to know anything besides that. We just deliver what they need.”

Cato smoothed over Redner’s multi-factor authentication difficulties. “We rolled Cato out, and within two seconds, someone can authenticate and access the network remotely. They’re just raving about the experience compared with what they had before.”

The Cato platform helped resolve Cato’s data recovery concerns, replicating data in real time between sites. And the Cato platform delivered improved voice and video performance with packet loss correction techniques to improve last-mile quality.

“We have improved the performance of every application on the network by rolling out Cato,” Hidalgo said. “We don’t hear about network slowness; we don’t hear complaints.”

“We have improved the performance of every application on the network by rolling out Cato,”

Additionally, Cato XDR made Redner’s team more efficient in remediating security incidents. “Cato XDR is a timesaver for us,” he says. “The XDR cards let us see all the data relating to an incident in one place, which is valuable. Seeing the flow of the attack through the network—the source of the attack, the actions taken, the timeframe, and more—on one page saves a lot of time. If a user has a network issue, I do not have to jump to various point product portals to determine where the application is being blocked.” (For additional information about Redner’s Markets’ experience with Cato XDR see this blog.)

“Cato XDR is a timesaver for us,”