Why cellular-first SASE is defining the future of distributed enterprises

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Startups seeing double-digit growth rates tell VentureBeat that combining networking and security in the same platform is essential for protecting every identity, endpoint, and threat surface that gets exposed as their companies quickly grow.

Consolidating network and security together into a unified platform also helps them to be more agile, flexible, and scalable in anticipating existing customers’ needs and delivering expected results. That is one of the main reasons why secure access service edge (SASE) is seeing greater adoption among highly distributed, fast-growing businesses that rely on real-time data and insights to grow. 

VentureBeat is seeing more AI, enterprise software, professional services, manufacturing and financial services firms turn to hybrid networks, software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN) and SASE as part of their roadmaps to support their growth. The SD-WAN market is predicted to grow from $7.2 billion in 2023 to $69 billion in 2032, attaining over a 27% compound annual growth rate. 

CISOs tell VentureBeat that legacy systems can’t keep up with the demand they have for real-time data from IoT devices and networks cellular connectivity and WWAN is meeting those demands, but the downside is that all of the new connected devices now extend the network edge and the number of endpoints. Unfortunately, this extension means a great attack surface for bad actors to take advantage., The latest cellular SASE is purpose-built for that challenge, as Cradlepoint’s recent launch of their NetCloud SASE platform illustrates. NetCloud SASE’s architecture reflects the progression Cradlepoint has made integrating the Ericom acquisition and the goal of having a cellular SASE platform that could scale across enterprises. 

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While Cradlepoint has made significant strides in the cellular SASE market, several other leading cybersecurity providers are also doubling down on SASE and they include Cisco, Fortinet, Palo Alto Networks, VMware and Zscaler.

Gartner’s definition of SASE says that “secure access service edge (SASE) delivers converged network and security-as-a-service capabilities, including SD-WAN, SWG, CASB, NGFW and zero trust network access (ZTNA). SASE supports branch offices, remote workers, and on-premises secure access use cases.”

How SASE turned cybersecurity into a business decision 

Every startup and fast-growing small business VentureBeat interviewed says protecting their intellectual property and proliferating number of endpoints has turned cybersecurity into the most important business decision and investment they can make. Many are turning to zero trust to lock down their proprietary systems and the potential attack surface. Investors, venture capitalists, and private equity firms want proof that risk is being managed, adding pressure to get SASE right. 

In the series of interviews VentureBeat has had with financial services, healthcare, and manufacturing business founders leading their companies to attain double-digit growth rates, senior management says the cost savings of relying on legacy systems aren’t worth the bad user experiences, wide security gaps, lack of extensibility and scalability. The risk levels rise to become board-level concerns that give CISOs the type of internal visibility they don’t want.

Esmond Kane, CISO of Steward Health, said: “Understand that — at its core — SASE is zero trust. We’re talking about identity, authentication, access control, and privilege. Start there and then build out.”  

“One of the key trends emerging from the pandemic has been the broad rethinking of how to provide network and security services to distributed workforces,” writes Garrett Bekker, senior research analyst, Security at 451 Research, part of S&P Global Market Intelligence, in his 451 Research note. Garrett continues, “This shift in thinking, in turn, has fueled interest in zero-trust network access (ZTNA) and secure access service edge.”

Integrating network and security into a single security architecture and enabling access with cellular technology is what security operations center (SOC) and network operations center (NOC) teams are looking for. The goal CISOs are trying to accomplish is greater efficacy and visibility across network infrastructure while reducing the number of conflicting alerts, false positives, and incompatible historical data sets. SASE consolidating network and security architectures is proving effective in streamlining ZTNA implementations.

How Cradlepoint gained a head start on cellular SASE 

Cradlepoint has been able to capitalize on its long-standing expertise in networking technologies, including cellular/5G, SD-WAN and key networking technologies, combined with the acquisition of cybersecurity company Ericom. Acquiring Ericom last year shows how Cradlepoint identified the opportunity to define the future of SASE in the enterprise

By combining Cradlepoint’s agile cellular, 5G SD-WAN and ZTNA, and Ericom’s zero trust remote browser isolation, unmanaged device security, Virtual Meeting protection, and generative AI security solutions, Cradlepoint is positioning itself to capitalize on the need businesses have for a more streamlined, quickly deployed SASE solution that can keep up with how fast they’re expanding their networks. The result is the industry’s first 5G-optimized SASE solution in NetCloud SASE.

Pankaj Malhotra, Head of WWAN & Cybersecurity Business at Cradlepoint, told VentureBeat, “Cradlepoint has more than a decade of experience simplifying cellular networking for enterprises operating in the most challenging environments on the planet. We are now enhancing the simplicity of enterprise-class network security for even the leanest IT organizations by introducing a SASE solution that integrates cellular networking, SD-WAN, and security in a unified platform.”

Cradlepoint’s NetCloud SASE is a single-platform secure access service edge (SASE) solution optimized for 5G and Wireless WAN (WWAN). “Our goal with NetCloud SASE is to offer enterprises an architecture to manage their network infrastructures more efficiently while maintaining the highest security standards,” Camille Campbell, Senior Product Marketing Manager, told VentureBeat. 

Cradlepoint showed how cellular optimization boosts performance at RSAC 2024 and had examples of how their advanced isolation technologies can minimize attack surfaces of managed and unmanaged devices, protecting against cyber threats. Their AI-based NetCloud Assistant (“ANA”) uses natural language processing to assist NetCloud users with everyday queries about the operation of their network, providing recommendations to troubleshoot network performance. Giving lean IT teams the tools they need to better cope with the number of alerts, false positives and conflicting data they get is a must-have in any SASE platform.

The graphic illustrates the intersection of 5G, SD-WAN and Security, highlighting their integration within the NetCloud SASE solution with a focus on Zero Trust security. Source: Cradlepoint 

Campbell told VentureBeat, “Startups and fast-growing small and medium enterprises (SMEs) need a networking solution that can scale with them and provide robust security without adding complexity. Cradlepoint’s cellular-first approach with NetCloud SASE is meeting that need by combining high-performance connectivity with comprehensive security measures.” 

How Cradlepoint designed their NetCloud SASE architecture 

Cradlepoint chose to have their platform architecture’s core components include app-based traffic steering, and WAN resilience for networking, along with ZTNA, secure web gateways, cloud access security brokers, and remote browser isolation for security. 

Zero trust security is at the heart of Cradlepoint’s NetCloud SASE. Unlike traditional security models that assume trust within the network perimeter, zero trust continuously verifies every user and device attempting to access resources. This model is essential for protecting today’s decentralized and dynamic work environments. 

Campbell explained to VentureBeat, “Our NetCloud SASE solution is designed with a zero trust foundation, which is crucial for protecting today’s decentralized and dynamic work environments.”

The graphic below highlights the NetCloud SASE architecture. Also, it highlights the system’s optimization for cellular use cases, including vehicles, IoT devices, and remote users, while connecting securely to private data centers and cloud environments and internet / SaaS services like LinkedIn and Office 365.

NetCloud SASE Architecture illustrates the integration of 5G SD-WAN with Zero Trust security, supporting vehicles, IoT, remote users, and fixed sites while connecting to private data centers and internet services. Source: Cradlepoint 

AI Boosts Cradlepoint’s Network Intelligence

Cradlepoint’s architecture set the challenging goal of making AI native while also absorbing the Ericom acquisition and integrating with cellular, SD-WAN, and 5G technologies. Their recent launch of NetCloud SASE shows how the company is capitalizing on its unique technological strengths to define the future of enterprise networks. 

Campbell told VentureBeat, “AI plays a critical role in our NetCloud SASE by providing real-time insights, recommendations on how to troubleshoot issues, and by analyzing traffic patterns going across the network to be able to detect when something might be anomalous. This ensures a robust zero trust security model, essential for safeguarding modern, decentralized work environments.” AI is the cornerstone of the Cradlepoint platform strategy and broadly reflects how these technologies are the DNA of cybersecurity.

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