The recent funding announcement from Cato Networks highlighted an important point for those of us involved in rethinking enterprise networking: how SD-WAN is only a partial answer to enterprise networking problems.
Cato: funding and 2018 results
The announcement included several important elements including:
- a $55 million funding round led by LightSpeed Ventures
- an increase in bookings of 352% year-over-year
- a fivefold increase in the company’s channel business
The $55 million brings the total funds invested in Cato to $125 million making it the youngest of private SD-WAN players and yet one of best funded. Check out the data courtesy of Crunchbase:
|Company||Founded||Last Round||Last Round (Date)||Total|
|Cato Networks||2015||$55M||January 2019||$125M|
|Silver Peak||2004||$90M||June 2018||$175.9M|
|Versa Networks||2012||$29M||November 2014||$43.4M|
Like I said over on SD-WAN Experts, Cato has long had an irresistible offer for the right size companies. Their combination of SD-WAN, a global backbone, embedded security, cloud connectivity, and mobile access gives them a unique position among the SD-WAN players.
The new funds should help to those goals, letting Cato scale the business. They’ll be investing in “service infrastructure, engineering and support organizations, and in sales and marketing,” Shlomo Kramer, CEO and co-founder of Cato Networks told me.
Does SD-WAN matter to an SD-WAN player?
But what caught my eye is the role SD-WAN plays in Cato’s strategy. You’d think as an SD-WAN player, SD-WAN would be its meat-and-potatoes (apologies to all of you vegans and vegetarians out there), but that’s not the case. Listen to how Kramer put it:
“SD-WAN is a small part of what Cato offers. Cato is the first cloud-native carrier to connect enterprise locations, users and cloud resources into a global, secure, and optimized cloud-based network, yes with built-in SD-WAN, but also with network security, and WAN optimization.
SD-WAN is a small part? That’s pretty incredible given the hype around the technology. We’ve focussed on SD-WAN as the essential ingredient of fixing today’s WAN problems, but IT does have networking problem beyond the WAN.
SD-WAN needs to be more than the WAN
Yes, agility in deploying and choosing the right underlay service for each location is important. Yes, being able to optimize application routing is important. But networking professionals also deal with security, cloud connectivity, mobility issues and more. We’re seeing new technologies, such as 5G, and new kind of endpoints, such as cars and appliances, emerge over the next decade that will ultimately impact our networks in ways that are hard to anticipate.
Ultimately we want networks that are future-proofed. Suitable for today yet ready for tomorrow. That means our networks need to be
- available everywhere,
- accessible by anything, and
- optimized for everything
SD-WAN solves an essential part of that problem, but only a part of it.