Internet access now accounts for a large portion of enterprise WAN traffic, forcing organizations to rethink WAN design. The traditional hub-and-spoke model, in which traffic from branch locations is backhauled to the centralized data center via Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) connections, is no longer efficient. Organizations are faced with adding more and more bandwidth — a costly proposition.

Broadband Internet links are far more cost-effective than MPLS, and improvements in performance and reliability have made them even more appealing. However, the Internet is a “best-effort” medium that cannot prioritize traffic of latency-applications. In addition, broadband Internet links can’t match the security of MPLS.

Ideally, organizations would have a hybrid WAN that incorporated broadband Internet, MPLS and 4G LTE wireless. However, the traditional WAN is rigid and complex with minimal automation capabilities. However, the software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) provides the visibility and intelligence needed to make routing decisions in real-time and enable centralized management from a single pane of glass.

Granular traffic policies enable organizations to prioritize connectivity for critical applications. Load balancing capabilities ensure optimum performance. All links in the hybrid WAN are simultaneously active to provide greater resilience. And as traffic demands continue to grow, SD-WAN enables organizations to reduce costs by relying more on broadband Internet and less on MPLS.

While the SD-WAN conversation tends to focus on broadband, organizations shouldn’t overlook 4G LTE when designing the hybrid WAN. The cost, bandwidth and performance issues associated with the wireless WAN are largely a thing of the past.

Today, 4G LTE can deliver speeds of 1Gbps or more, making it capable of supporting high-speed data transfers and real-time applications such as video and voice. It can be provisioned far more quickly than broadband or MPLS, and provide critical connectivity when wired services are unavailable. It can be used for temporary pop-locations and Internet of Things (IoT) devices, or to provide permanent services for satellite offices that lack reliable broadband or MPLS services.

Cradlepoint offers an array of solutions for wireless WANs based upon 4G LTE. The Cradlepoint NetCloud platform makes it possible for distributed and mobile enterprises to deploy software-defined wired and wireless networks on-premises or in the cloud. It includes a full suite of virtualized services to maximize availability, security and agility. Cradlepoint Cloud Manager provides real-time intelligence at the network edge so organizations can efficiently manage and maintain reliable connections with remote sites and workforces, devices, vehicles and other assets.

The latest version of Cradlepoint NetCloud offers extended SD-WAN functionality for 4G LTE-dependent networks. The new release provides improved visibility and the ability to control servers, mobile platforms and IoT devices. The new Auto-Quality of Service feature automatically adjusts to differing WAN speeds to prevent performance issues with latency-sensitive traffic. Smart WAN Selection steers wireless traffic in a way that minimizes latency and optimizes data consumption. These router software enhancements make it easier to deploy 4G LTE in SD-WAN environments, manage performance and control costs.

All components of IT infrastructure are becoming software-defined, and the WAN is no exception. Let us show you how Cradlepoint NetCloud can help you leverage 4G LTE to optimize your SD-WAN and manage bandwidth more efficiently.

by Bryan McCandless, Sigma Business Development Manager