ZTE architecture merges and delivers networking and security functions as a service.

Edward Gately, Senior News Editor

August 17, 2023

6 Min Read
Palo Alto Networks, Versa Networks Among Leaders on ZTE Forrester Wave
Alexander56891/Shutterstock

Palo Alto Networks, Versa Networks, Fortinet and Cato Networks are leaders on the third-quarter Forrester Wave for zero trust edge (ZTE) solutions.

The latest Forrester Wave examined 10 ZTE solution providers and how they stack up. ZTE architecture merges and delivers networking and security functions as a service.

ZTE solutions are best suited for highly distributed organizations with many small, repeatable sites, such as retailers, retail banks, gas stations and insurance brokerages, according to Forrester. In the future, ZTE solutions will expand to more complicated, heterogenous environments such as manufacturing, data centers and health care.

The evaluation criteria is based on:

  • The strength of the offering based on remote workforce security capabilities; zero-trust principles; network control, management, monitoring, visibility and observability; and integrations.

  • The strength of the vendors’ strategies, including vision, innovation, roadmap, partner ecosystem, pricing flexibility and transparency, and supporting services and offerings.

  • The vendors presence in the market based on revenue and installed base.

Each of the vendors Forrester included in the assessment has:

  • At least $75 million in annual revenue attributed exclusively to ZTE technologies.

  • A zero trust network access (ZTNA) product in addition to a secure web gateway or cloud security gateway as of May 30.

  • At least 30% of revenue from outside the vendor’s home region and they must have point of presence (PoP) in every continent except Antarctica.

  • A remote site appliance that provides physical WAN connectivity, link load balancing or routing capabilities.

  • Complete or partial cloud-based administration across the ZTE components.

Palo Alto Networks and Versa Networks

Palo Alto Networks was the first among its peers to unify security and networking, and deliver these from its Prisma Access service, gaining “real first-mover” advantage, according to Forrester. The vendor’s “outstanding” strategy aligns strongly to ZTE and features AI and AIOps to increase detection and decrease the chance of misconfiguration.

Palo Alto also has a strong partner ecosystem of resellers and MSPs, and the multitenancy to support them, the Forrester Wave revealed. However, it needs to take care of its existing customers and improve its customer support.

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Palo Alto Networks’ Kumar Ramachandran

“We believe this recognition is a testament to our comprehensive approach to secure access service edge (SASE) and zero trust, ensuring our customers are prepared to meet the scale, complexity and speed of a highly distributed and cloud-first world,” said Kumar Ramachandran, Palo Alto Networks’ senior vice president of products for SASE.

Versa Networks was one of the original SD-WAN vendors and has since built out its ZTE security capabilities on the same platform, according to Forrester. Its solution provides a single interface for all networking and security capabilities, and leverages a single data lake for analysis.

The company plans to address multicloud networks, which have similar needs to the security and connectivity requirements of remote offices, Forrester said. This will help customers create a consistent, businesswide secure WAN. However, the company lacks specificity in its ZTE road map.

“As organizations continue to evolve through their digital transformation, many are finding that current solutions limit their ability to move quickly because of …

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Versa Networks’ Dan Maier

… inflexible architectures and weak security,” said Dan Maier, Versa Networks‘ CMO. “ZTE gives highly distributed organizations, including retailers, banks, gas stations and insurance brokerages, a new competitive weapon, and future-proofs their continued evolution into more advanced architectures such as multicloud, 5G and satellite operations.”

Fortinet and Cato Networks

Fortinet differentiated itself in the market by developing and integrating networking functions such as routing into its remote office firewalls, which eases the rollout of its ZTE solution with a unified management interface, according to Forrester. This innovation, alongside strong technology and business partnerships, has helped Fortinet experience rapid growth. One of the most compelling aspects of the Fortinet value proposition is cost.

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Fortinet’s John Maddison

“We believe that the critical convergence of networking and security must be everywhere and are proud to be one of the only vendors to lead in firewall, SD-WAN and ZTE reports,” said John Maddison, Fortinet‘s CMO and executive vice president of product strategy. “For us, this recognition validates our continuing commitment to developing one of the leading single-vendor SASE solutions on the market.”

Cato Networks is the “poster child” for ZTE and SASE, according to the Forrester Wave. The company started with a strong security pedigree and built a global platform of distributed PoPs from which to deliver security as a service. It has a strong strategy paired with a unified networking and security solution, and has shown real security innovation within its single pass architecture platform.

While Cato Networks has a significant partnership with Windstream, it needs to expand its partner ecosystem for third-party management, Forrester said.

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Cato Networks’ Shlomo Kramer

“Cato architected a platform that was purpose-built for ZTE and SASE, one that is valued by our thousands of customers and partners for its simplicity, agility, security posture and optimal performance,” said Shlomo Kramer, Cato Networks‘ CEO and co-founder. “We are happy to see their excitement reflected by leading industry analysts’ reports.”

Forrester Wave Strong Performers, Contenders 

VMware and Forcepoint are listed as strong performers on the Forrester Wave, while Juniper Networks, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), Cisco and Barracuda Networks are listed as contenders.

Unlike other vendors that originated in the networking or security space, VMware came in from the virtual server market, according to Forrester. This origin gives the vendor a unique position among competitors. It has a strong set of partners to help organizations create ZTE fabric. The vendor’s vision is complex, and it’s hard to discern which capabilities within VMware’s edge software stack are necessary and which are optional to create a unified ZTE solution.

Forcepoint has made significant progress and has the foundation of a credible ZTE platform, but it’s not yet complete, Forrester said.

Among contenders, Juniper Networks is capitalizing on past investments but needs to unify them, while HPE has started its ZTE journey but needs more security controls. Cisco has a wide range of discrete ZTE components that need unification, while Barracuda Networks has strong Azure integration, but security inspection needs improvement.

Want to contact the author directly about this story? Have ideas for a follow-up article? Email Edward Gately or connect with him on LinkedIn.

About the Author(s)

Edward Gately

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

As news editor, Edward Gately covers cybersecurity, new channel programs and program changes, M&A and other IT channel trends. Prior to Informa, he spent 26 years as a newspaper journalist in Texas, Louisiana and Arizona.

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