Meta Networks has taken customer feedback since coming out of stealth almost a year ago, and made a series of enhancements around security, management and usability.
Last April, Meta Networks emerged from stealth with the launch of their Meta NaaS [Network-as-a-Service] cloud-native networking and security platform, a software-defined perimeter designed as a modern replacement for VPNs. Today they are announcing a series of enhancements in response to customer feedback. The enhancements fall into three categories – security, management and usability.
“These are not minor things,” said Etay Bogner, Meta Networks’ CEO and Founder. “There is nothing monumental, but we have added some nice features. We are customer-driven at this point, and these features were requested by customers.”
Bogner said that the market response to their SaaS offering has been good since it came to market.
“We are very happy with that,” he said. “We have a set of large customers, and close to 1000 users in the system. They are from a wide range of industries, with both cloud-native customers and also very traditional enterprises. We have even bigger names in the pipeline that we will be able to talk about, but we also have smaller customers as well.”
The security enhancements begin with new device posture checks, which define criteria for allowing device connection to Meta NaaS.
“This seems like a simple feature, but it hides a very powerful engine underneath,” Bogner said. “It does things like check to see if a computer is joined to an Active Directory domain.” Pre-defined templates allow the user to create custom posture queries, based on any parameter, like running processes, OS patch level, installed applications, registry entries, or installed certs.
Behavioral alerts and notifications have been made more comprehensive, to better respond to anomalies like forbidden connection attempts, failed login attempts or attempts to gain access to sensitive information.
“This is something that was a very basic feature before, and has been significantly enhanced,” Bogner said. The highlight is a new capability to deliver multi-channel notifications to email, Slack, PagerDuty, and generic Webhook. It also provides more leverage of web access, traffic, and security and audit logs.
Another security addition is an enhanced ability to record Level 7 sessions, with MetaConnect Web Recording. This is an optional capability, which needs to be enabled by policy.
“It provides you with a complete audit of all user behavior, which will log everything based on the URL,” Bogner said. “You can set alerts for things like downloading files more than x number of times.”
The management improvements include a new Smart Group capability
“Smart Groups let an admin tag any element in the system with a set of key values to create a flexible group they can use in policies,” Bogner indicated. It’s nice both for regular purposes and for security. They can manage a lot more complex relations. For example, one customer uses it for all production uses, and then allows only certain users to access production servers. It is very simple to set up, but it allows very dynamic grouping.”
SCIM support has also been enhanced, to synchronize users, groups and attributes from any SCIM-enabled identity management platform, and then assign policies, egress and posture checks.
“SCIM is a widely used protocol, so now if it’s delivered in say, Okta, it will be delivered in Meta NaaS as well,” Bogner said. “It applies for any identity provider that supports SCIM. Before we could do this, but we didn’t have the published applications. We have now passed all the interoperability tests, so it’s a good time to announce it publicly.”
For improved usability, the key addition here is new multi-platform end-user agents, which have been completely rebuilt from the time of the offering’s release.
“The feedback from eight months of customer activity was that we needed to have a cross-platform and multi-profile capability,” Bogner indicated. “If something goes wrong on an end-user machine, this provides a better way of getting access.” The UI has also been enhanced for clarity and the agents have been tweaked for improved stability.
Direct MetaConnect access has also been added, to enable transparent connection to web applications over MetaConnect directly from a hyperlink.
“Until now, when customers wanted to access through a browser they had to access through the portal and be authenticated,” Bogner said. “The issue was when customers were working with their customers and partners, and wanted them to go directly to the application. Another use case is using an internal URL externally.” Users can click a link in an email or message, and it will automatically open an application inside a secure, MetaConnect session.
“Our channel partners are especially interested in the enterprise management enhancements,” said Amy Ariel, Meta Networks’ CMO. “Anything that makes it easier for them to onboard customers is very important to them. We are also getting feedback that operational efficiency is just as important a driver as security in this. When there isn’t enough people or budget to be able to provide secure nodes, connectivity-as-a-service is a very relevant value proposition.”