Virtualization Technology News and Information
Cradlepoint 2021 Predictions: Wireless WAN, Working From Home, 5G and More

vmblog 2021 prediction series 

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2021.  Read them in this 13th annual series exclusive.

Wireless WAN, Working From Home, 5G and More

By Aaron Maben, Corporate Solutions Engineer, Security at Cradlepoint

Change is the name of the game when it comes to digital transformation. In 2020, we saw a contagion act as the catalyst for rapid deployment of a "Work From Anywhere" (WFX) workforce, significantly expanding the attack surface of organizations, shifting the office from the glass paneled palaces of downtown skylines to the comfort of the home. This left IT and security teams scrambling for solutions to manage and secure their newly "acquired" infrastructure: someone else's network.

Out of the lockdown-ashes arose a buzzword-phoenix: the Gartner coined term Secure Access Service Edge or SASE (pronounced "sassy"). The term, created in 2019, predicted growing trends in the marketplace, which were accelerated only half a year later by the novel coronavirus. Gartner defines SASE as "an emerging offering combining comprehensive WAN capabilities with comprehensive network security functions to support the dynamic secure access needs of digital enterprises." That's a wordy definition, but what does it really mean? Much like a teacher telling students to shut up, nicely, by saying "zip it, lock it, put it in your pocket," SASE can be explained as something along the lines of "connect it, protect it, put it in the cloud and inspect it."

While major security industry players rushed to claim the SASE crown in what seemed like a distilled alphabet soup of service offerings -- ZTNA, CDN, CASB, SD-WAN, FWaaS, DLP, etc. -- the WFX workforce exploded on to the scene to throw shade on the network functions of SASE. So, how can enterprises deliver, monitor, manage and optimize resilient connectivity with a single, unreliable, outage-prone, and non-SLA-protected residential internet connection? The short answer? They can't. The long answer? By leaving an  expensive link-aggregating SD-WAN appliance to collect dust in the wiring closet of an empty office space while making a run on the consumer off-the-shelf (COTS) cellular enabled, unmanaged network device market demolishing supply faster than you can say "COVID" with the hopes that this catastrophic turn of events is only temporary and life will return to normal in only a few weeks or months. Well, I've got sour news for you: remote work is here to stay.


Even with COVID-19 vaccines beginning to be distributed and a gradual return to normal on the distant horizon, 74% of companies that responded to Gartner's CFO Survey are expecting to have a portion of their workforce remain remote, permanently.

With this WFX revolution, an unmanaged COTS solution and software security client simply won't suffice. Which is why 2021 will be the year of "W-SASE" (pronounced "dub-sassy") combining the benefits of Wireless WAN, single-pane-of-glass management of distributed networks and one-click deployments of resilient backhaul into SASE vendor infrastructure. This can help enterprises regain full control over the WFX network stack, adding an additional layer to their defense-in-depth strategy. In 2021, W-SASE will find its place at the top of business continuity plans across the enterprise as businesses look for new methods to identify and mitigate the vulnerabilities that WFX produces.

Towards the end of 2021, we could see personnel begin to return, en masse, to the office. However, you're more likely to see a New Kid on the Rack where your dusty old SD-WAN appliance used to be - an enterprise 5G branch router. With the promises of low latency, high speeds, network slicing and dynamic spectrum sharing, we'll begin see 5G offset enterprise SD-WAN functionality since the last mile is already shifting from wired to wireless. 5G is going to accelerate this trend, providing considerable cost savings on last-mile deployments (no more digging and laying cable) and ISP consolidation. This prediction is not claiming the death of SD-WAN but rather a shift from hardware and wires to software and wireless. Since carriers will primarily be operating the 5G networks, SD-WAN will begin to become abstracted to the enterprise, but critically important to how 5G networks function. How does this prediction apply to SASE, you ask? SASE vendors, like Zscaler, are beginning to recognize that security is beginning to decouple from the network, no longer requiring the integration of SD-WAN into the SASE stack providing SASE vendors the opportunity to take advantage of networking advancements while remaining primarily focused on actually delivering a Secure Access Service Edge; securely connecting subjects to objects, building out additional Points-of-Presence (POPs) to further contribute to the low latency promises of 5G and inspecting massive streams of data in real time for signs of malicious activity.

We're entering the golden age of distributed enterprise and 2021 is going to be the tipping point. From WFX to 5G, SASE is going to play a critical role in protecting the confidentiality and integrity of enterprise data, while 5G ensures the availability of the network. The formation of partnerships between SASE providers and 5G leaders is proof of this trend and while 2020 was very sassy, we'll emerge from the ashes in 2021 better, stronger, more secure and incredibly agile to tackle the problems that are pleading for solutions.


About the Author

Aaron Maben 

Aaron is a Corporate Solutions Engineer for Security at Cradlepoint. At Cradlepoint, Aaron helps companies reduce the complexity of their distributed networks, decrease the workload of over-extended IT teams, and increase operational efficiency while delivering ROI via cloud-managed, software-defined endpoints.

Published Thursday, January 14, 2021 7:55 AM by David Marshall
There are no comments for this post.
To post a comment, you must be a registered user. Registration is free and easy! Sign up now!
<January 2021>