In 2021 Gartner WAN Edge Infrastructure Magic Quadrant, Cradlepoint fares well on core SD-WAN features despite focus on wireless and extending beyond the branch
Once again, Gartner issued its seminal WAN Edge Infrastructure Magic Quadrant and Critical Capabilities reports. In more common speak, the 2021 Gartner SD-WAN MQ. Before we jump into dissecting how Cradlepoint fared in 2021, let me share some of my overall perspectives.
First, and I can say this with great confidence, there will never be another WAN built (or refreshed) that's not an SD-WAN. My enthusiasm stems from the fact that SD-WAN represents a fundamental shift in how enterprise and even service provider networks are architected, built, and managed. In short, SD-WAN makes WANs more cloud-like by improving simplicity and automation so organizations can expand connections to more people, places, and things while requiring fewer humans to secure and manage it all.
Second, Gartner's definition of SD-WAN continues to evolve to stay relevant and address the new challenges of deploying, securing, and managing enterprise WANs.
Evolution of Gartner’s SD-WAN Definition
While it's clear from the above slide that Gartner sees SD-WAN as a way to build a better branch WAN, the definition is evolving to address remote workers as well. It does not see, by their own admission, SD-WAN address all the needs of today's hyperconnected enterprise, which extend beyond the branch — and beyond wired — to connect mobile workforces, vehicles, temporary sites, and field-based IoT devices. A recent IDG State of the Wireless WAN Report, sponsored by Cradlepoint, confirms growing WAN diversity. The report surveyed 499 IT decision-makers, cited 53% of respondents use their WAN to connect in-vehicle networks, and 77% connect fixed IoT locations such as kiosks and security cameras. Forty percent said they use their WAN to connect all three — branches, vehicles, and IoT. Of course, the vast majority of these field-based connections utilize advanced LTE and 5G. And, wireless is not just for field-based connections; 78% of respondents say they are using or considering using LTE or 5G as the only WAN link in their branch locations.
So let me cut to the chase; here is what Gartner thinks of Cradlepoint's SD-WAN solutions:
Gartner Says About Cradlepoint…
"In this market, its operations are primarily focused on North America, but are expanding globally, with a concentration on wireless WAN use cases in specific verticals, such as government, retail, and public safety. We expect Cradlepoint to make future investments in 5G and to enhance its reporting/analytics capabilities.”
- The vendor is extremely focused on and has strong capabilities supporting 4G and 5G use cases.
- Cradlepoint has strong adoption in retail, transportation, public safety and broad mobile use cases, where 4G/5G is a core part of the solution.
- With Ericsson’s purchase of Cradlepoint, we expect the vendor to become more relevant in the enterprise networking market globally.
- Cradlepoint doesn’t align well with customer use cases in which cellular wireless isn’t part of the solution.
- Cradlepoint has limited market visibility, based on client inquiry and online conversations from enterprise users.
- The vendor’s throughput limitation on its larger appliances may affect customers that have high bandwidth requirements at their data centers.
I can't deny, the above assessment from the Gartner SD-WAN report is pretty spot-on. However, as Gartner so accurately claims, this year's SD-WAN MQ is focused on wired connectivity, NOT wireless.
Like Obama's birthday party, Gartner's SD-WAN MQ is the party everyone wants to get invited to, and this year is no exception. Over 70 companies vied for the 15 consolidated "dots" found in this year's MQ. While you would expect me to say this, and it's true, just getting chosen is quite an accomplishment. At a minimum, it means the companies on the MQ have achieved considerable market traction with their SD-WAN offering. This year, while we are still in the Niche quadrant, Cradlepoint's MQ dot moved significantly toward the Visionary, and for a good reason. When it comes to the breadth of Cellular Intelligence and diversity with Wireless WAN connections for LTE and 5G, nobody beats Cradlepoint.
Even for Gartner, 5G is a force that one can't resist when it comes to next-generation enterprise WANs, and I trust Cradlepoint will not be alone with 5G support in next year's SD-WAN MQ. But, as anyone who has built and managed a wireless LAN knows, it's the software and support of the entire management lifecycle that determines success, not just support of a wireless interface. The same is true for wireless (cellular) and the WAN.
Now, back to the Gartner SD-WAN report. Here's a balanced look at some of Cradlepoint's call-outs:
- SD-WAN Features: Scored on par with HPE/Aruba — above Cisco Meraki and Peplink (remember, we are wireless-optimized and single-sided).
- Security Features: While not considered by Gartner in this MQ, Cradlepoint offers a comprehensive set of Unified Edge Security and IoT Device-to-Cloud Security capabilities to provide secure internet access across branch, mobile, and IoT use cases. We also have seamless integrations with Zscaler and Palo Alto PRISMA cloud platform.
- App Performance Optimization: We don't have any WANopt features and, while very rich and functional, our app (L7) classification capabilities are somewhat more difficult to use than the other platforms.
- Small Platform Flexibility: Scored on par with Cisco (Viptela), Citrix, Juniper, and Versa — above Barracuda, Fatpipe, Nuage, PAN/CloudGenix, Peplink, Riverbed, and HPE/Silver Peak.
- Scalability: Scored on par with Barracuda, Citrix, HPE/Aruba, Peplink and HPE/Silver Peak — above Cisco/Viptela, Fatpipe, Juniper, Nuage, Riverbed, and Versa.
- Cloud Features: Other than NetCloud Perimeter (IoT device-to-cloud) and the ability to provide cloud-based VPN terminations, our cloud networking features are still brewing.
- Remote Worker: Scored above Fatpipe, Huawei, Peplink, Riverbed, and HPE/Silver Peak. Cradlepoint's remote worker solutions are wireless-centric and, as you would expect, did not get a lot of consideration by Gartner in this study. However, we are getting a lot of traction with enterprises with many mission-critical remote workers. Follow up if you want to learn more.
Looking ahead, our wireless SD-WAN customers are telling us they want to deploy Cradlepoint solutions WAN-wide, which means for wired sites as well. So we are busy working on expanding our software-defined networking solutions to address hybrid WANs and introduce the next level of advanced connection and network security features. Expect some cloud networking as well as a more robust policy and automation engine sprinkled in as well.
NET-NET: Cradlepoint is honored to be in the very exclusive club of SD-WAN companies to be included in this year's WAN Edge Infrastructure Magic Quadrant (SD-WAN MQ). While, by Gartner's admission, the MQ assessment is wired focused, we believe 5G will start to change things in 2022. At the same time, Cradlepoint's customers are pushing us to support more hybrid WAN topologies (wired and wireless) and expand our security, policy, and automation capabilities. I can't wait to see what next year's Gartner SD-WAN report brings.
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