Enterprises Are Losing Confidence in SD-WAN as a Comprehensive Solution

SD-WAN is not meeting enterprise expectations in terms of security and supporting digital transformation.

For the last several years, there has been momentum around software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) as a solution to the demands of an increasingly complex infrastructure in the cloud age. From centralized management and visibility to reduced costs and scalability, its traffic segmentation and provider agnostic approach seemed almost too good to be true.

A recent report based on a survey by Cato Networks found that many network professionals see SD-WAN that way. Almost three-quarters of respondents reported that they have “significantly” less confidence in their network capabilities after embarking on digital transformation plans.

The survey included more than 1,300 IT professionals reporting on various topics including network budgets, obstacles, and their readiness to implement digital strategies. Among the respondents, 43% represent companies with at least 2,500 employees. All of the enterprises represented are utilizing some cloud solutions and 82% report having at least two physical data centers.

Enterprises are prioritizing network upgrades, with 56% expecting their budgets to increase. Seventy-three percent of respondents say their security budgets will increase in 2020.

SD-WAN is being used by 35% of respondents, and another 30% have plans to deploy SD-WAN in the following year. The findings show that SD-WAN is pursued as a solution to rising networking costs. Fifty-six percent cited excessive WAN costs as the motivator for the change. Other reasons included improved internet access (55%), improving last-mile connectivity (50%), increasing bandwidth availability (48%), WAN modernization (45%), and supporting cloud migration (42%).

In many cases, the lack of confidence in SD-WAN is a part of the digital transformation, because during the rollout, network engineers discover weaknesses in the network. High costs related to multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) cause enterprises to look for alternatives to the reliable but costly pathway option. While SD-WAN is a solution to cost concerns, some IT professionals discover that once it’s necessary to implement cloud or mobile as a central part of the IT strategy, SD-WAN begins to demonstrate some shortcomings.

One of the major issues that became evident in the findings is that respondents are prioritizing cloud connectivity to support digital transformation. Sixty percent of participants in the survey reported that cloud solutions are central to their strategies in the next year. However, among those that have already embarked on a digital transformation processes, 69% report lower confidence in cloud connectivity.

The other gap demonstrated in the findings is in the area of security. While the majority (66%) of respondents identified ransomware and malware as important security challenges, only 37% said that SD-WAN would be helpful as part of a security strategy.While SD-WAN has offered a number of advantages over a hub-and-spoke traditional networking approach, there are clearly some remaining gaps in the solution. Contact us at Compass Solutions to discuss your networking goals and we’ll help you identify the right technology for addressing challenges with a comprehensive solution.

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