Cato Builds Business Priorities Into SD-WAN

Mitch Wagner

Cato Networks, which has a distinctive cloud-based, as-a-service approach to SD-WAN, is giving network operators the ability to prioritize traffic based on the identities of individual users, to make networks more more adaptable to what's important to the business.

Unlike other SD-WAN providers, Cato Networks has its own international network, so it controls physical infrastructure as well as software layers. (See Cato Caters to Enterprises Opting Out of Carrier SD-WAN.)

Cato, which was a Leading Lights finalist this year in the category Most Innovative SDN Deployment Strategy (Network/Data Center Operator), is giving network operators new optimization tools with identity-aware routing, introduced last week. Traditionally, networks route traffic based on the site, IP address or application being used. Now, Cato will enable network operators to optimize traffic based on the identity of the user or group of users. (See Leading Lights 2016 Finalists: Most Innovative SDN Deployment Strategy (Network/Data Center Operator) and Cato Networks Surges in 2017.)

For example, VoIP calls from sales to customer can have a higher priority than marketing traffic, Dave Greenfield, Cato Secure Networking Evangelist, tells Light Reading.

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The new feature supports Microsoft Active Directory to track user identity.

Additionally, Cato customers can prioritize traffic to software-as-a-service and cloud providers such as Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services Inc. This takes advantage of the fact that Cato's points-of-presence often share the same physical data center as AWS or Azure, Greenfield says.

Also, Cato adds support for multi-segment policy-based routing to improve network performance; real-time network analytics tracking throughput, jitter, packet loss, latency and other factors; and expanded high-availability support for improved failover.

Cato's customers are enterprises, but Greenfield hinted that the company might branch out into the service provider market, Greenfield says. "I'm not prepared to talk about that but there is a lot of interest," he says.

Cato is up against big guns in the SD-WAN market. Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW) and Hewlett Packard Enterprise are all focused on the technology, through acquisitions in recent years, while Nuage Networks , a business unit of Nokia Networks , provides software-defined networking automation across data center, cloud and SD-WAN.

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