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The Elastic Edge and the Network of the Future

Cloud, mobile and IoT are three of the macro trends fueling digital transformation, but the underlying enabler is pervasive connectivity— driving the need to transform the Wide Area Network (WAN) and giving rise to the “Connected Enterprise.”

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Cradlepoint

Cloud, mobile and IoT are three of the macro trends fueling digital transformation, but the underlying enabler is pervasive connectivity— driving the need to transform the Wide Area Network (WAN) and giving rise to the “Connected Enterprise.”

The pace of change, brought on by digital transformation, is staggering. Businesses of all sizes, and across all industries, have to move and evolve faster than ever before. The penalty for not keeping up is no longer slowing sales—it is no sales. The traditional enterprise WAN, which has evolved little over the past 20 years, was not built for the current changing conditions, and has become a significant inhibitor to a company’s ability to transform. It’s time to change that.

The Network’s Evolution

The historical enterprise topology has been the manufacturing plant, distribution center, branch office or retail outlet, along with the people within those sites. The branch office or retail outlet formed the edge of the enterprise network and the point of presence and commerce with customers, employees and suppliers. These sites have also historically represented the places from which information flowed and business insights were gained.

In the emerging Connected Enterprise, the network extends well beyond brick-and-mortar to span the internet and connect everything from kiosks, sensors and cameras to digital signage, vehicles and, of course, people. Work is no longer a destination, but something that can be done from anywhere. As a result, WANs that have to connect all of these people, places and things must be transformed to be more scalable, more secure, more reliable, more automated— plus more agile. It’s the only way to respond to far-flung, rapidly evolving business needs of today’s enterprises. 

Perhaps nowhere is the need for WAN transformation more profound than at the Network’s Edge. At Cradlepoint, we refer to the new paradigm of connecting people, places and things to the WAN over wired and wireless internet broadband as the Elastic Edge. It constantly expands, contracts, adapts, moves and evolves as business needs dictate. We believe wireless connectivity is essential to achieving the level of elasticity the Connected Enterprise requires, and we are providing the pathway from 4G LTE to game-changing technologies such as Gigabit LTE and 5G. 

Elasticity also means the WAN Edge is software-defined, policy-driven and highly orchestrated to eliminate the crushing complexity of today’s WANs and remove human intervention from the critical path.

Elastic Edge Fuels Consume Versus Build Methodology

How new WANs are being built and utilized is also changing significantly.  We are moving rapidly out of the era of “build-your-own” and into one of “consume-as-a-service.” From an organization having to buy all the networking hardware, equipment and carrier services—and then hire expensive CCIEs to build and run it—to one that purchases the “Network-as-a-Service.” In this new emerging model, you can spin up and down connections, capacity and services when and where you need them, and pay for only what you use — combining elasticity with utility.

In the next Cradlepoint post, we will address how the digital transformation of the branch WAN is fueling the shift to an Elastic Edge and the transition from a “build-your-own” to consuming methodology.

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