Cradlepoint differentiates its SASE platform with 5G support

The phased rollout of Cradlepoint’s 5G SASE solution will enable enterprises to create hybrid wireless and SD-WAN environments that optimize availability, quality of service, and security to edge, distributed, and mobile locations.

5g cellular tower
Shutterstock / Alexander Yakimov

Cradlepoint this week shared its strategy to couple 5G wireless with its secure access service edge (SASE) platform to provide wireless WAN and hybrid WAN environments with cloud management and SIM-based security capabilities.

The platform builds off Cradlepoint’s NetCloud Exchange 5G SD-WAN and will incorporate zero trust and cloud-based security technology Cradlepoint acquired recently with its acquisition of Ericom. The company plans to roll out the updates in phases over the next 12 months, with its Cellular Intelligence component available now.

Cellular Intelligence collects information on cellular metrics, such as signal strength and data plan usage, and helps customers steer SD-WAN traffic. As both public and private 5G standalone networks become more popular, Cradlepoint will use its network slicing capabilities to work with carriers’ services to offer prioritization and slice-based isolation. Network slicing lets IT managers select and assign spectrum channels within a 5G network to specific customers or use cases, giving the higher priority traffic the bandwidth it needs to perform as expected, according to James Weaver, Sr., director of product marketing at Cradlepoint.

“We are finding that the days of just offering cellular connectivity are passing. We are going into customers with bigger use cases that are driving a different set of requirements,” Weaver says. “We are interested in being the first 5G SASE vendor offering cellular-first 5G to enterprise customers with many distributed sites and thousands of IoT sites, and we have to provide the same level of service to all sites that we provide to our best branches.”

As environments become more distributed and mobile, 5G connectivity is becoming more appealing to enterprises. According to Enterprise Management Associates (EMA), 86% of enterprise users either use or plan to use wireless WAN connectivity (4G/5G) in their corporate networks. And 90% of those companies plan to use WWAN as the primary network connection for at least some of their sites.

“It’s important to have an SD-WAN and SASE technology that can incorporate WWAN into the network,” says Shamus McGillicuddy, research director for the network management practice at EMA. “Cradlepoint is a WWAN specialist, so it excels at working with wireless technology. It’s using this as a differentiator. Most SD-WAN vendors can add WWAN connectivity to an overlay, but they aren’t as smart about how they manage it. Cradlepoint can track signal strength, for instance, and use that as a factor in how it steers traffic over wired and wireless networks.”

Cradlepoint’s solution includes its cloud-delivered management platform NetCloud Manager as well as Cradlepoint hardware routers and access points located in branch locations, home offices or mobile vehicles, such as police cars and school buses. The technology uses cellular-based wireless networks as well as Ethernet-based wired networks for connectivity, delivering cloud-based security and prioritization updates from the centralized management console.

Along with Cellular Intelligence and NetCloud Manager, other components include:

  • SIM-based Security, which offers SIM management and GPS tracking to secure the physical devices and to detect rogue movement.
  • Connect-and-Go Zero Trust Security, which will offer easier deployment for devices and zero trust policies delivered via the cloud.
  • Cloud-Delivered Security, which comes to Cradlepoint via Ericom’s secure service edge (SSE) solutions that will be integrated with zero trust and SD-WAN solutions into NetCloud.

Cradlepoint’s Cellular Intelligence not only enables better traffic steering over wired and wireless networks, but it will also help enterprise IT organizations extend zero trust access and security policies to routers across corporate sites as well as IoT devices in surveillance cameras. “It can also extend this cellular intelligence to the security components of SASE,” McGillicuddy says.

The traffic isolation capabilities, according to Cradlepoint’s Weaver, can help a business prevent production downtime when a security breach threatens corporate connectivity. “From a SASE perspective, there is traffic that is more important than other. For a manufacturer, for instance, the connectivity on the factory floor is top priority. We can isolate specific traffic and give it the pristine experience it requires, if for instance, backend email is down because someone clicked on a bad link.”

With this planned product strategy, Cradlepoint is also being mindful that multi-vendor SD-WAN and SASE deployments can introduce management and integration challenges to enterprise companies. By coupling Ericom SSE with its own SD-WAN and 5G capabilities, Cradlepoint is working toward offering customers an all-in-one SASE solution that can minimize management complexity across a distributed network.

“It’s hard to coordinate security architecture and policy across two vendors. It’s also hard to incorporate all the SSE points of presence of a third-party provider into the SD-WAN overlay, lots of tunnels to build, for instance. By offering a single-vendor solution, Cradlepoint is addressing a major pain point for its customers,” McGillicuddy says.

To stand out in the crowded SASE market that includes Cisco, Juniper, Fortinet, and Aruba (among many others), Cradlepoint will have to execute on the vision it laid out this week and provide tight integration between the acquired SSE capabilities and its own wireless connectivity portfolio. Enterprises that plan to rely heavily on 5G to provide reliable connectivity across locations might want to stay tuned as Cradlepoint proves it can deliver the capabilities it promised with this news, according to McGillicuddy.

“Much of its SSE capability is based on its acquisition of Ericom. That product is not quite a full ‘as-a-service’ offering as you might see from companies like Netskope and Zscaler. Cradlepoint is working toward that goal, and it also needs to tighten integration between its existing SD-WAN capabilities and the Ericom solution,” he says. “A successful execution on all this will leave Cradlepoint in a strong position to serve the needs of enterprises that consider 5G to be a first-class component of their hybrid WAN strategy.”


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