Industry talking to customers What's this? Connected enterprises need an Elastic Edge Published: September 15th, 2017 By: Cradlepoint Businesses of all sizes and across many industries are in the midst of digital transformation. They are being driven to improve operational efficiencies, capitalize on new opportunities, and respond faster to changing market conditions and competitive pressures. This has accelerated the adoption of cloud, mobile, and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies and, in turn, is driving the need for pervasive connectivity of people, places, and things across the enterprise.In essence, the modern-day enterprise requires an Elastic EdgeSM.Today’s enterprise Wide Area Networks (WANs) are based on decades-old architectures, technologies and practices, and are simply not built to handle the volume, velocity, and variety of connections required in today’s hyper-connected business world.Take healthcare, for example: Today, leading healthcare organizations are connecting with patients, emergency personnel, doctors, and caregivers in new and innovative ways. Thanks to the pervasiveness and performance of 4G LTE cellular networks, doctors can leverage telemedicine to consult with the ambulance crew on the way to the hospital while they track patient data in real time. They can use sensors and portable equipment to monitor the status of the patient as they go through outpatient recovery facilities and ultimately arrive back home. For hospital IT staff, their purview is not just inside their four walls, it’s also on four wheels, and with every patient and thing connected to their network—anywhere.To support the demands of digital transformation, WANs must be transformed to become more agile, automated, software-defined, and policy-driven. In other words, they need to become more cloud-like – including shifting from build-your-own infrastructures to a “Consume-as-a-Service” model. Elasticity and utility will be the hinge points of the new WAN for connected enterprises, making it possible to spin up and down connections, capacity, and services when and where needed — and without requiring a room full of expensive, certified network engineers.If digital transformation and the pending deluge of IoT devices are still on the distant horizon for your business, there are several other unstoppable trends driving the need for a more software-defined, elastic WAN:Strike up the Broadband: What cloud, mobility and IoT have in common is that they are Internet-derived and, together with video and unified communications, are driving more network traffic at the WAN Edge than ever before — saturating expensive MPLS links. As a result, organizations leverage SD-WAN to augment, and even replace, their expensive MPLS networks with wired and wireless broadband links that deliver more bandwidth, at up to 90 percent less cost per bit.Branching Out: As more critical business functions migrate to cloud-based apps—like replacing the on-premise Exchange server with Microsoft 365 — the WAN Edge must evolve. Enterprises have traditionally backhauled branch Internet traffic to the data center where centralized firewall and web security functions reside. SD-WAN enables direct Internet access at the branch by integrating the firewall and web security functions at the edge and utilizing intelligent path selection to steer cloud apps and web traffic directly to the Internet instead of “tromboning” it through the data center. Adding 4G LTE to the mix provides true path diversity and ensures productivity is never hampered due to a lack of Internet access.Changing of the Guard: New entrants into the IT field grew up in a digital-first, consumption-based and hyper-connected world, so they are not stuck on the idea of building their own IT infrastructure. They are quick to embrace a new paradigm that’s based on open source tools, software-defined everything, the Internet as the WAN, and consume “Everything-as-a-Service” because they want work life to be as simple, agile and productive as their personal life.Work is No Longer a Place: Work is no longer a place you go, it’s a thing you do — from anywhere in the world. Whether at home or Starbucks, just passing through the office, in a hotel or on an airplane, today’s modern workforce demands access to the files and applications they need to be productive from the devices they have at hand. This new workstyle requires a Software-defined Perimeter where network policies, security and services are abstracted from physical places and topologies and follow users wherever they roam and on whatever device they have with them.A nexus of innovative, societal, and technological forces is washing across businesses of all sizes and different industries, and driving the need for enterprise WANs to connect more people, places, and things than ever before. To accommodate the volume, velocity, and variety of connections, enterprises are transforming their WANs with software-defined networking and 4G LTE technologies.Cradlepoint’s NetCloud platform and purpose-built, LTE-enabled edge routers provide a software-defined, cloud-enabled Elastic Edge across the enterprise with unified management and control. The Cradlepoint NetCloud platform is composed of cloud management and orchestration with SD-WAN and SD-Perimeter technologies, and integrated security and Edge Computing functions designed to support M2M/IoT, mobile, and branch networks.Visit the Cradlepoint website to find out more about Cradlepoint network solutions.About the author Todd Krautkremer, SVP of Strategy & Corporate Development, brings thirty years of technology executive experience to Cradlepoint, where he is responsible for overseeing the company’s strategy, M&A activities, and strategic partnerships. Prior to Cradlepoint, Todd was CMO at Pertino (acquired by Cradlepoint in 2015), a pioneer in software-defined cloud networking. Previous roles include COO at Red Lambda, CEO at Gearworks (acquired), VP of Worldwide Marketing at Packeteer (IPO, acquired), and VP of Marketing at Sync Research (IPO, acquired). Earlier in his career, Todd held engineering, product management, and regional sales roles at AT&T and Siemens Communications Systems. He is currently a co-founder and board member of the Minnesota Emerging Software Advisory, a non-profit C-level mentoring organization for early stage software companies in Minnesota, and holds two patents for application-based managed network services.