The 10 Coolest New Networking Products Of 2021 (So Far)

The pandemic prompted a slew of new networking offerings to come to market that embraced emerging trends, such as multi-cloud, AI, edge networking and automation. Here’s 10 new networking products that solution providers should know about.

So Far, So Good

The networking industry was already starting to chase emerging trends, like multi-cloud, AI, edge networking and Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) as digital transformation was taking hold for many businesses. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic happened.

The pandemic accelerated the IT industry’s trajectory by five to 10 years, many solution providers say. As companies grappled with the work-from-home trend and security issues started to emerge, networking vendors turned the attention of their product development teams to focus on the combination of networking and security, the network edge, and embracing new forms of connectivity, such as cellular -- like 5G -- and Wi-Fi 6. Network automation also took precedence as companies looked for software and tools that could take work off their IT teams’ plates. All this while many companies quickly adopted cloud-based anything they could get their hands on.

In fact, cloud is quickly becoming the de facto platform for new digital services and existing traditional workloads, which is why 40 percent or all enterprise workloads will be deployed in cloud infrastructure and platform services by 2023, up from only 20 percent in 2020, according to research firm Gartner.

The leading networking vendors all saw the new obstacles immediately and came to the market with new solutions for the brand-new use cases that were popping up, while startups realized it was their time to shine and emerged from stealth mode with their cloud-first, automation-heavy solutions.

With many options on the market to choose from, here are 10 of the coolest new networking products of 2021, so far.

For more of the biggest startups, products and news stories of 2021 so far, click here .

See the Newest entry: The 10 Hottest Networking Products of 2022

Alkira Cloud Services Exchange

Cloud networking-as-a-service startup Alkira emerged from stealth mode in 2020 and with it came its Cloud Services Exchange (CSX), a unified, on-demand offering that lets cloud architects and network engineers build and deploy a multi-cloud network in minutes.

Alkira CSX offers cloud networking in an as-a-service format with the flexibility to turn services on and off as the business requires, with no up-front Capex purchase necessary. The San Jose, Calif.-based company said it will go to market primarily through the channel.

Aruba 630 Series Wi-Fi 6E

Aruba Networks, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, in May launched its Aruba’s 630 Series Wi-Fi 6E Indoor Access Points, making it the first enterprise networking vendor with a solution that takes advantage of the newly opened 6GHz spectrum, according to the vendor.

The Wi-Fi 6E (extended) 630 Series campus access point is the first in a product family of wireless solutions that operate in the 6GHz band, which was opened up in April 2020 by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for unlicensed use in the United States.

Wi-Fi 6E makes the wider 6GHz spectrum channel available — in addition to the narrower 5GHz and 2.4GHz channels that are already in use today — which will greatly alleviate congestion and give users and devices access to broader, high-speed connections.

Cato Cloud

Cloud networking provider Cato Networks comes to the market with Cato Cloud, an offering that brings together SD-WAN, a global private backbone, a full network security stack and support for cloud resources and mobile devices.

Via Cato Cloud, customers can connect physical locations, cloud resources and mobile users through a single, self-service console. The company’s globally distributed cloud service gives enterprise networking and security capabilities to all edges, according to Tel Aviv, Israel-based Cato Networks.

Cisco Catalyst Cellular Gateway Series

In June, Cisco grew its Catalyst 8000 Edge and cellular gateway product line. Specifically, the Catalyst Cellular Gateway series was updated to support 5G.

A competitor to Cradlepoint, the Catalyst Cellular Gateways were introduced first in October as a series of small devices that give customers a simple way to connect to 4G LTE without changing their existing infrastructure. The Catalyst Cellular Gateways can be used as a cellular a back-up option or a primary SD-WAN link for locations without wired connectivity. The Catalyst Cellular Gateway 5G, which was rolled out in January, includes SD-WAN and can give customers the highest connectivity speed at a lower price point, which helps them meet growing throughput demands of the branch, according to Cisco.

Extreme Networks CoPilot

Extreme Networks in May announced a public beta of CoPilot, a subscription within ExtremeCloud IQ, the company’s innovative cloud management solution for wired and wireless networks. A boon to both partners and end customers CoPilot provides “explainable” AI to help enterprises identify and solve complex IT issues, according to the company.

ExtremeCoPilot is a new software feature part of the ExtremeCloud IQ platform that is an automation capability that can help businesses and partners execute time-sensitive tasks and monitor highly-distributed network environments, while still 99 percent “false alarm free,” the company said.

Fortinet FortiSASE

Security leader Fortinet has spent the last couple of years stepping up its SD-WAN and SASE game and is now competing with the leading providers in this market. The company’s FortiSASE solution is a scalable cloud-delivered security as a service that provides flexible secure access for remote users. The product uses FortiOS and the Fortinet Security Fabric to provide frictionless orchestration between cloud-delivered next-generation firewalls, web security, intrusion prevention systems, Domain Name Systems (DNS) and sandboxing.

Unlike many SASE providers that rely on public cloud providers instead of investing in their own global network, Fortinet’s offering is delivered on the company’s own elastic multitenant cloud architecture. This strategy makes it possible for Fortinet to deliver the complete promise of SASE with the flexibility and consumption model that the modern enterprise demands, according to the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company.

Juniper Security Director Cloud

Juniper Networks realized that remote work is here to stay, and the networking leader has been helping enterprises secure access and ensure users, applications, and infrastructure remain protected, no matter where the users are located.

Juniper in May introduced a centralized connectivity and security management platform for enterprises and channel partners: Security Director Cloud. The new platform can help businesses adopt a Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) architecture on their own timeline and create policies that can follow users and applications, regardless of their location, according to the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company.

Security Director Cloud is interoperable with third-party networking and security technologies via APIs. Security Director Cloud Insights is a feature that can bump up visibility into attacks across the network by bringing together threat detection information from other vendors’ products, Juniper said.

Prosimo Application eXperience Infrastructure Platform

Enterprise infrastructure startup Prosimo emerged from stealth mode in April with its sights set on collapsing multi-cloud networking, security, and application performance.

The company is coming to the market with Application eXperience Infrastructure (AXI) platform that is modernizing and simplifying application delivery and experience across cloud and on-prem environments for a multi-cloud experience.

Prosimo has been in trials with customers over the last several months and several large distributor partners have also signed on to work with Prosimo, which plans on doing all of its business through the channel, the company told CRN.

Versa Titan

Versa Networks, a security and SD-WAN specialist, this year injected more SASE functions into its popular SD-WAN offering for smaller customers, Versa Titan. Now, that platform includes Secure Web Gateway (SWG) and Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA), which have been added to Titan’s existing SD-WAN, routing, Next Generation Firewall (NGFW), IDS/IPS, Anti-Virus/Anti-Malware, Role-Based Access Control, and User and Entity Behavior Analytics.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company in 2020 introduced its software-based Versa Secure Access, which gives channel partners a scalable, remote access service

that lets customers securely connect to applications in both private and public clouds. The offering requires no physical appliances or VPN concentrators that have to be shipped to employees’ homes, Versa told CRN at the time.

VMware Cloud Web Security

VMware, which acquired VeloCloud for its SD-WAN in 2017, in June announced the general availability of VMware Cloud Web Security. The latest offering is a cloud-hosted service that extends VMware’s VeloCloud’s SD-WAN and VMware Secure Access to users working from anywhere to their applications in the cloud, using the same points of presence that VMware uses to deliver it’s SD-WAN, according to the company.

VMware has an existing relationship with cloud security provider Zscaler, but the addition of Cloud Web Security “completes the picture” for VMware’s own SASE strategy, VMware told CRN at the time.