IHS Markit: Cloud and Mobility Driving Enterprise Edge Connectivity in North America

IHS Markit Survey: Cloud and mobility driving new requirements for enterprise edge connectivity in North America
By Matthias Machowinski, senior research director, IHS Markit, and Joshua Bancroft, senior analyst, IHS Markit


  • By 2019, 51 percent of network professionals surveyed by IHS Markit will use hybrid cloud and 37 percent will adopt multi-cloud for application delivery.
  • Bandwidth consumption continues to rise. Companies are expecting to increase provisioned wide-area network (WAN) bandwidth by more than 30 percent annually across all site types.
  • Data backup and storage is the leading reason for traffic growth, followed by cloud services
  • Software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) is maturing: 66 percent of surveyed companies anticipate deploying it by the end of 2020.
  • Companies deploying SD-WAN use over 50 percent more bandwidth, than those who have not deployed it. Their bandwidth needs are also growing at twice the rate of companies using traditional WANs.


Based on a survey of 292 network professionals at North American enterprises, IHS Markit explored the evolving requirements for enterprise edge connectivity, including WAN and SD-WAN. The study revealed that enterprise IT architectures and consumption models are currently undergoing a major transformation, from servers and applications placed at individual enterprise sites, to a hybrid-cloud model where centralized infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) complements highly utilized servers in enterprise-operated data centers. This process allows organizations to bring the benefits of cloud architectures to their own data centers – including simplified management, agility and scalability – and leverage the on-demand aspect of cloud services during peak periods. Respondents also reinforced the viewpoint that the hybrid cloud is a stepping stone to the emerging multi-cloud.

Changing business demographics is sparking the trend of more centralized applications: enterprises are moving closer to their customers, partners, and suppliers. They are adding more physical locations, making mobility a key part of their processes and taking on remote employees to leverage talent and expertise.

Following the current wave of application centralization, certain functions requiring low latency will migrate back to the enterprise edge, residing on universal customer premises equipment (uCPE) and other shared compute platforms. This development is still in its infancy, but it is already on the radar of some companies.

Hybrid cloud is an ideal architecture for distributed enterprises, but it is also contributing to traffic growth at the enterprise edge. Extra attention must be paid to edge connectivity, to ensure users don’t suffer from slow or intermittent access to applications. Performance is a top concern, and enterprises are not only adding more WAN capacity and redundancy, but also adopting SD-WAN.

The primary motivation for deploying SD-WAN is to improve application performance and simplify WAN management. The first wave of SD-WAN deployments focused on cost reduction, and this is still clearly the case, with survey respondents indicating their annual mega-bits-per-second cost is approximately 30 percent lower, with costs declining at a faster rate than in traditional WAN deployments. These results show that SD-WAN can be a crucial way to balance runaway traffic growth with budget constraints.

SD-WAN solutions not only solve the transportation and WAN cost reduction issue, but also help enterprises create a fabric for the multi-cloud. Features like analytics to understand end-user behaviour, enhanced branch security and having a centralized management portal all make SD-WAN an enticing proposition for enterprises looking to adopt a multi-cloud approach.

Enterprise Edge Connectivity Strategies North American Enterprise Survey 

This IHS Markit study takes explores how companies are advancing connectivity at the enterprise edge, in light of new requirements. It includes traditional WAN and SD-WAN growth expectations, growth drivers, plans for new types of connectivity and technologies, equipment used, feature requirements, preferred suppliers, , and spending plans.