NetCloud Exchange SD-WAN solutions set the bar for cellular-optimized SD-WAN services
In early 2023, GigaOm issued the Radar Report for SD-WAN ranking vendors on several different criteria including SD-WAN features and capabilities, evaluation metrics such as manageability, and support, and the integration of emerging technologies and trends such as zero trust network access (ZTNA), artificial intelligence for IT operations (AIOps), and 5G. Within each of these categories, Cradlepoint’s cellular optimized SD-WAN solution received a score of "exceptional" in:
- Features and capabilities: Application awareness and branch support
- Evaluation metrics: Scalability, manageability, observability, technical support, and vision and roadmap
- Emerging technologies and trends: Integrated ZTNA and 5G
Interpreting the GigaOm Radar Report for SD-WAN
The GigaOm Radar Report plots vendor solutions across a series of concentric rings, with those closer to the center judged to be of higher overall value. The chart characterizes each vendor on two axis:
- Maturity versus innovation: Maturity means it is proven in a production setting compared to a newer solution undergoing innovation to achieve customer acceptance and adoption.
- Feature play versus platform play: Platform play means the vendor has a fully integrated solution, while feature play means the vendor might have a narrower focus such as a limited target customer set, selling only as a service, or only having the solution active in certain geographies.
The length of the arrow indicates the predicted evolution of the solution over the coming 12 to 18 months.
Cradlepoint’s position on the GigaOm Radar Report
Cradlepoint was recognized as a leader as well as an outperformer in the Radar Report. GigaOm analyst Ivan McPhee specifically identified Cradlepoint as one of three vendors to watch closely in this space. In a subsequent webinar with GigaOm CIO and CTO Howard Holton, Cradlepoint’s focus on 5G — which GigaOm believes will be transformational — was a major reason for the company’s position in the report, particularly as an outperformer.
Cradlepoint’s cellular optimized SD-WAN solution
In addition to Cradlepoint’s branch offerings, GigaOm also evaluated Cradlepoint NetCloud Exchange (NCX). NetCloud Exchange represents a unified WAN and security architecture that enables enterprise customers to:
- Connect from anywhere using LTE or 5G
- Provide inherent security of those connections through zero trust
- Deliver application assurance with a unique cellular-optimized SD-WAN solution
- Provide operational efficiency through simple yet powerful cloud management
NetCloud Exchange offers a suite of zero trust security services as well as cellular-optimized SD-WAN services. With 5G non-standalone networks in mass deployment and 5G standalone (SA) networks on the horizon, NetCloud Exchange is the industry’s first 5G-optimized SD-WAN solution. Cradlepoint’s SD-WAN solution offers the following adaptations for operating efficiently and cost effectively over cellular networks.
Consideration of cellular-specific attributes when steering traffic
In addition to evaluating WAN links based on measurements such as latency, loss, and jitter, NCX SD-WAN also considers cellular-centric attributes such as available bandwidth (which fluctuates based on the signal strength and quality) and data usage when steering traffic. This enables more cost-effective and reliable 5G networking.
Preservation of bandwidth across metered links
Unlike traditional SD-WAN solutions that generate synthetic traffic to calculate WAN performance metrics, NCX SD-WAN uses only in-line traffic to calculate WAN performance metrics. This not only prevents impacts on data plans but also eliminates the administrative burden of manually scheduling those measurements.
Integration of Cellular Intelligence for improved 5G insights and visibility
Traditional SD-WAN solutions provide a generic set of insights for all WAN connections. NCX SD-WAN incorporates comprehensive cellular insights that include cellular service provider visibility and prioritization, the ability to view cellular signal strength and quality in real-time, and the ability to plot the location of both SD-WAN routers and the serving cell towers on a map for optimal placement of the SD-WAN devices.
Application-based traffic steering across multiple private APNs
With NCX SD-WAN, enterprises who have subscribed to multiple APNs on a single LTE or 5G modem can create application-based policies to steer applications to the APN with the service agreement that best matches the applications class of service, enhancing the overall quality of experience.
Application-based traffic steering across multiple 5G SA network slices
This functionality will initially be used for carriers to conduct proof of concept trials for their SA network deployments. As 5G SA networks begin to roll out, enterprises will be able to take advantage of Cradlepoint’s NCX SD-WAN service to recognize and steer applications to the appropriate 5G network slices.
Summarizing Cradlepoint’s strengths, GigaOm analyst Ivan McPhee said, “Backed by Ericsson, Cradlepoint has a broad 5G business portfolio encompassing both routers and adapters with indoor and outdoor deployments optimized for spectrum layers and cellular bands. Sophisticated cloud management simplifies all aspects of the wireless WAN lifecycle, including intuitive multilayered dashboards, bulk orchestration, zero-touch deployments, over-the-air OS upgrades, and rich application programming interfaces (APIs) for integration with third-party applications.
Cradlepoint NetCloud Exchange includes fully integrated ZTNA and recognizes over 3,500 applications for creating application-based policies applied across the entire WAN edge with just a few clicks.”