For most ONUG members, your network and security infrastructure is built from “best of breed” products (aka “point solutions”). Dating back to the ‘80s, selecting, piloting, integrating, and deploying every single component of your infrastructure was the common practice. The prevailing notion was, and still is to a certain extent, that point solutions built by a specialist that focuses on a specific set of requirements and capabilities will outperform suites or platforms that address them as part of a broader solution.
This common wisdom had been challenged since its inception. In the late ‘80s, Microsoft Office suite replaced best of breed word processing and spreadsheet software (WordPerfect and Lotus 1-2-3, respectively) in the personal productivity space. In the 2000s, Amazon Web Services (AWS) challenged best of breed computing, storage, and hosting providers, with its cloud-delivered converged infrastructure architecture. Being able to choose “best of breed” servers, storage, and hosting, started to matter less and less.
Why does this transition occur? There is a point in time, where the marginal benefit of a point solution becomes small compared to the cost to maintain and “own” it. At that point, it becomes more beneficial to consume the capabilities, once delivered via a point solution, as a feature within a converged platform. In addition, when convergence happens in the cloud, like in the case of Amazon Web Services, cloud-delivered capabilities can be introduced at significantly faster pace than traditional on-premises point solutions, so functional gaps can be closed very quickly.
Convergence is happening all around us. In the networking and security space it was given the name SASE (for “Secure Access Service Edge”). SASE converges SD-WAN, cloud-based security, and zero trust network access (ZTNA) into a single cloud-native platform. There are several use cases that SASE addresses: edge SD-WAN (for network cost reduction, resiliency, and optimization), global connectivity optimization (when SASE includes a global backbone for WAN and Internet traffic), remote access for on-premises and cloud applications from any device (work from home), secure multi-cloud networking (for cloud migration), and full traffic inspection for threat prevention and data protection (secure Internet access).
SASE can be deployed gradually for specific use cases, users, locations, or geographies. If done right, it can seamlessly enable other gradual migration efforts such as the move from on-premises datacenters to cloud-based ones. You can treat SASE platforms as a point solution, with the power to address multiple requirements in a gradual, controlled manner. This future-proofing aspect of SASE is one of its core advantages: gradually rolling out new capabilities with a mere license activation without the need to select, try, deploy, maintain, and retire point solutions.
Large enterprises have traditionally relied on sizeable infrastructure teams to support the complexity and diversity of their underlying infrastructure. These capable teams go through extensive infrastructure buildout to create cloud-like scalability and flexibility and address the business needs anytime and anywhere. But, the pace of change, emerging new requirements, and the introduction of new platforms and technologies, is causing rapid fragmentation of the infrastructure and is impacting IT response to business needs. Just think about the sudden shift to working from home during COVID-19.
So, the question is: what does your future hold? Piling up the best tools for every requirement as it comes up, or a converged platform that can deliver the capabilities you need, today and tomorrow, with near zero effort, anywhere you need them?
Some of our customers, very large enterprises, decided to leave complexity behind and adapt a new networking and security architecture. Case in point is Baker Tilly, a leading advisory, tax, and assurance firm. “The Cato SASE platform has transformed the way we connect our enterprise,” said Matt Jennings, Director, Enterprise Technology at Baker Tilly. “Cato made us nimble, enabling us to address significant business changes, like M&A, with near zero effort. No more product-by-product configuration, updates, and troubleshooting – just getting things done, quickly. It doesn’t matter how many sites or users we deploy or where, I know with Cato they will always get the same secure and optimal access to the resources they need.”
There you have it: convergence vs. best of breed. If you want to become agile and nimble, leverage the power of converged, global, and cloud-delivered networking and security — consider SASE to address your next network or security refresh, M&A, or geo expansion. If you try it, you will learn what it means to be ready for whatever comes next.