Cloudbrink wants to fix everything that’s wrong with SD-WAN

Cloudbrink emerged from stealth this week with a $25 million warchest and what it pitched as a novel take on distributed connectivity. Specifically, the company is peddling what it calls hybrid access-as-a-service. CEO and co-founder Prakash Mana told Fierce Cloudbrink’s software is designed to address a number of flaws in traditional SD-WAN solutions, including issues with performance, latency, security and mobility.

“The problem is the traditional design of networking, security for organizations has been focused on providing the best performance for users inside the office,” Mana explained. But with remote work on the rise, enterprises are looking for ways to extend their networks to cover users wherever they are.

Cloudbrink is looking to fill that need with software that compresses the traditional connectivity stack into an app that can be downloaded on any device, he said. That means that unlike traditional SD-WAN, specialized hardware isn’t required on either end of the connection.

Beyond making the network more mobile, Mana argued Cloudbrink’s product offers three other advantages over traditional SD-WAN. First, it delivers enterprise-grade performance on any device by using preemptive accelerated packet recovery technology. Mana noted that even 1% packet loss at the network layer can drag down throughput to 16% of what it should be. Thus, a 100 Mbps in the home might end up performing more like a 16 Mbps connection. The packet recovery feature is meant to mitigate that issue using artificial intelligence to ensure quality of experience.

Second, Cloudbrink taps into the edge networks of big name players like Verizon and Zayo to help slash latency. Its mesh partner network already includes thousands of edge locations and Mana said the figure will increase to 10,000 by the end of 2023. As a result, Cloudbrink is able to deliver under 20 milliseconds of latency to any device. Mana said that compares to latency of 70-100 milliseconds with traditional SD-WAN.

And third, Mana said that unlike with regular SD-WAN, security is a feature of Cloudbrink’s solution rather than an add on. He noted the architectures for SD-WAN-related security technologies such as Security Services Edge (SSE) and Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) were “designed back in 2018, coming into 2019. They were never designed for this future state that we’ve found ourselves in. With this profound shift to a hybrid workforce, we need to find a new approach rather than repurposing some old technologies and force-fitting them” into new uses.

For what it’s worth, Cloudbrink isn’t the only company which seems to have realized the need for an SD-WAN makeover. VMware, which ranks among the top SD-WAN vendors with its VeloCloud solution, recently announced a new SD-WAN “soft client” which sits on an end user’s device and enables them to take the network with them wherever they go.

Mana said Cloudbrink already has a global base of several thousands of users and is looking to scale customer growth at a rate of 5x to 7x per year. In addition to putting its funding toward improving its go-to-market and onboarding, the CEO said it will also be working to flesh out its platform features and enable enterprises to deliver third-party applications locally.