When it comes to taking companies from startup to fruition, Shlomo Kramer is no novice. Kramer, the founder and CEO of software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN) firm Cato Networks, also was a founder at cybersecurity firm Imperva and firewall software maker Check Point. But SD-WAN, says Kramer, is different. “The momentum we see is unusual. It’s very unique,” he said during a recent interview with SDxCentral.
Analysts are projecting big growth numbers in SD-WAN, and there are numerous SD-WAN startups competing for enterprise business. IDC estimates that the worldwide SD-WAN infrastructure and services revenue will reach $8.05 billion in 2021, a compound annual growth rate of 69.6 percent.
Kramer contends that SD-WAN is not “over-hyped.” Instead, he says that there is a huge need for this technology because companies have not done anything to improve the WAN in more than 15 years. “Customers don’t understand why they are paying so much for MPLS,” Kramer said.
Cato differentiates from its competitors, according to Kramer, by offering a cloud-based SD-WAN that has security embedded in it. “This really allows organizations to gradually migrate from an MPLS architecture to a cloud-based architecture,” he said.
This converged cloud-based architecture is a good fit for enterprises that need the extra agility of a cloud provider. Kramer takes a page from T-Mobile and calls Cato “the uncarrier” of the SD-WAN world. “We are a new type of carrier that offers cloud DNA to the old world of WAN.”
More Consolidation Likely?
Lately, there has been a spurt of consolidation among SD-WAN companies. VMware purchased SD-WAN vendor VeloCloud last November for an undisclosed amount and Cisco purchased Viptela for $610 million last August. Is there more on the way?
Kramer isn’t so sure. He said that he doesn’t believe SD-WAN is a transition technology and that if the company’s SD-WAN platform is great it should be able to build a big company from that platform alone. “We believe we can build a long-term standalone company,” he said.
But when it comes to challenges, Kramer admits that Cato faces the same challenges that most startups face. Customers ask about the company’s track record, its number of customers, and its length of time in business.
But he says that Cato being based in Israel is not an issue. In fact, he compared Israel’s startup ecosystem to being only second to that of Silicon Valley. And Israel is known for its strong history in security, which is something that most SD-WAN customers find valuable.