The Edge

Charter goes big at the edge

In the wake of its launch of edge services for small and midsized businesses, Spectrum Enterprise is now pushing further up-market with a new edge services offering tailored to larger, enterprise-class customers.

Spectrum Enterprise, the business services unit of Charter Communications, is targeting that market segment with Enterprise Network Edge (ENE), an offering weaving in both advanced security and SD-WAN capabilities that can be managed through a cloud-based portal. The offering also includes a virtual edge and remote access element that provides secure connectivity to cloud applications powered by AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud.

Spectrum Enterprise has hooked up with long-time managed network security partner Fortinet on the new ENE offering.

Charter's headquarters building in Stamford, Connecticut. 
(Source: Charter Communications)
Charter's headquarters building in Stamford, Connecticut.
(Source: Charter Communications)

Bob Schroeder, Spectrum Enterprise's vice president of enterprise data product management, characterized ENE as a new set of capabilities and services for the more sophisticated and complex end of the networking market.

ENE, he said, "allows us to offer extremely tailored, high-performance solutions for a sophisticated kind of network that has hundreds, if not thousands, of branch locations, multiple data center locations, and requires public and private networking underlay services."

Charter generally defines the enterprise market as businesses with more than 400 employees and 20 locations, with the mid-market defined as businesses that fall below that threshold. Charter's growing business services unit generated $6.74 billion in revenues in 2021, with the enterprise piece of the business accounting for $2.57 billion of that total.

The debut of ENE arrives about a year after Spectrum Enterprise launched Managed Network Edge (MNE), an SMB-focused offering that's underpinned by Cisco's Meraki platform. Last month, Spectrum Enterprise enhanced MNE with new features tailored for remote access workers and a virtual edge service that enables SMBs to connect securely to multiple cloud service providers, including AWS, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure.

Pre-pandemic initiatives are ramping back up

Schroeder noted that ENE is entering the picture as enterprise clients start to refocus on digitization and modernization initiatives that were delayed or put on hold during earlier phases of the pandemic that required them to focus resources on people working from home. These days, enterprises are increasingly looking at hybrid models whereby public networking complements (or possibly replaces) their traditional WAN setups.

Enterprises are also looking to beef up network security. "It's increasingly important to carefully examine where your borders are in protecting users and devices, and any doors into and out of a network," Schroeder said. "You have to think about how to protect and build in security, not only in the perimeter of the network, but in the cloud itself."

Tied into that trend, some users on the enterprise system aren't connecting back to data centers with traditional firewalls that protect all of the inbound and outbound packets. Today, those users tend to connect directly to the cloud, and businesses need to ensure that they are providing a level of security and protection for that traffic. It's not uncommon for there to be "dozens" of different cloud service providers inside an enterprise network, Schroeder explained.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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