Cradlepoint Sees the Point of 5G, SD-WAN, and Zero Trust Harmonization

The News: Cradlepoint, a supplier of cloud-delivered LTE and 5G wireless network solutions, announced NetCloud Exchange, an architectural extension of its NetCloud solution, to help lean IT organizations transform their business and amplify their 5G experience with SD-WAN and Zero Trust capabilities. NetCloud Exchange is a cloud-native solution built on policy-driven, zero-trust principles that can deliver multiple SD-WAN and security services. Read the Cradlepoint Press Release here.

Cradlepoint Sees the Point of 5G, SD-WAN, and Zero Trust Harmonization

Analyst Take: Cradlepoint’s new NetCloud Exchange offering astutely targets the digital ecosystem-wide transition toward broader adoption of cloud, mobility, and IoT capabilities. However, WAN architectures have lagged in providing the flexibility and adaptability needed to securely connect expanding hybrid workforce environments, including distributed enterprise sites, work-from-home (WFH) employees, devices, and dynamic workspaces.

As such, 5G is increasingly becoming integral to the WAN infrastructure of organizations resulting in an expanded attack surface, more connected endpoints, and cloud-determined traffic patterns. Since Cradlepoint’s parent company, Ericsson, delivers one of the most diverse 5G solution and service portfolios available today on a global basis, I anticipate that the new NetCloud Exchange solution will gain swift sales and marketing momentum as the offering is rolled out.

To support 5G’s expanding role, the following new NetCloud Services will be delivered based on the NetCloud Exchange extension. All services are delivered using the NetCloud Exchange Service Gateway that is developed as a scalable, resilient, software-based solution for private and cloud data centers to aggregate remote connections, provide flow-level visibility, and act as the policy-enforcement point for the services it supports:

  • Secure Connect: LTE/5G VPN-like service that can enable secure end-to-end connections for thousands of locations in three steps.
  • Advanced SD-WAN: A future service that extends Cradlepoint’s current SD-WAN capabilities by adding end-to-end support and application optimization.
  • Zero Trust Network Access: A future service that is designed for deployment ease and flexible use, fine-grained user, site, application, and resource-based policies that leverage identity, context and 5G attributes to control network access.
    Why 5G, SD-WAN, and Zero Trust Need to Come Together Right Now

I expect enterprise IT teams to accelerate their migration away from traditional WAN as they broaden their adoption of cloud. Traditional WAN implementations frequently use dedicated MPLS circuits to help ensure reliable, secure connections between users at campus and branch office sites to applications hosted at the enterprise data center. Through cloud adoption, organizations are increasingly using software-as-a-service (SaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) applications distributed across multiple clouds which causes traffic management complexity, application performance inconsistencies, and data vulnerability for retro WANs.

Retro WANs reliant on MPLS circuits are ill-suited to scale the unparalleled upsurge in WAN traffic across multi-cloud circuits. From my view, SD-WAN solutions fulfill the WAN demands of the cloud-era by delivering routing, threat protection, efficient offloading of expensive MPLS circuits, and streamlining of WAN network administration. Specifically, I envision 5G SD-WAN solutions using millimeter wave (mmWave) and sub-6 GHz spectrum to boost the application and service experience for users.

In addition, 5G SD-WAN aligns with flexibly integrating WFH employees, devices, and dynamic workspaces, including across emerging secure access service edge (SASE) implementations. With 5G SD-WAN, enterprise IT teams can assure their SD-WAN fabric is not limited to fixed broadband availability.

Of key importance, I believe 5G SD-WAN must align with zero trust (ZT) security models to minimize cybersecurity threats by making no assumptions about trustworthiness, including internal employees. Specifically, a zero trust architecture (ZTA) works by securing network access to resources, such as devices, data, and services, which is limited only to subjects, such as users, devices, and services, that are authorized and pre-approved. It uses an identity-centric approach based on the execution of policy-based authorization decisions in runtime coupled with proven defense-in-depth security methods.

Through proper implementation, ZTA can diminish and potentially eliminate the risk of an external attacker gaining a foothold in the network including exploiting third-party vulnerabilities to mount a security breach as well as the risk of internal cyber sabotage. This includes IT teams administering and orchestrating the security monitoring, policy enforcement, secure transport, and secure digital identities components key to attaining a comprehensive, unified ZTA.

Key Takeaways: Cradlepoint’s New NetCloud Exchange Solution

Overall, I believe Cradlepoint’s new NetCloud Exchange cloud-native solution provides the policy-driven, zero-trust capabilities that can augment 5G experiences with SD-WAN and Zero Trust through the flexible delivery of multiple SD-WAN and security services bolstered by the backing of Ericsson’s 5G portfolio expertise and global channel resources.

From my perspective Enterprise IT teams can gain 5G WAN benefits such as predictable services for critical enterprise applications, secure and agile integration of distributed workforces, dynamic routing of application traffic, and OpEx savings through phase-out of traditional WAN technologies such as MPLS. Now Cradlepoint must show NetCloud Exchange is ready to deliver 5G WAN powered by SD-WAN and ZTA principles.

Disclosure: Futurum Research is a research and advisory firm that engages or has engaged in research, analysis, and advisory services with many technology companies, including those mentioned in this article. The author does not hold any equity positions with any company mentioned in this article.

Analysis and opinions expressed herein are specific to the analyst individually and data and other information that might have been provided for validation, not those of Futurum Research as a whole.

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Image Credit: TheInfoTech

Author Information

Ron is an experienced, customer-focused research expert and analyst, with over 20 years of experience in the digital and IT transformation markets, working with businesses to drive consistent revenue and sales growth.

He is a recognized authority at tracking the evolution of and identifying the key disruptive trends within the service enablement ecosystem, including a wide range of topics across software and services, infrastructure, 5G communications, Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), analytics, security, cloud computing, revenue management, and regulatory issues.

Prior to his work with The Futurum Group, Ron worked with GlobalData Technology creating syndicated and custom research across a wide variety of technical fields. His work with Current Analysis focused on the broadband and service provider infrastructure markets.

Ron holds a Master of Arts in Public Policy from University of Nevada — Las Vegas and a Bachelor of Arts in political science/government from William and Mary.


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