Enterprises Deploy SD-WAN but Integrated Security Needed

A new IDC study, commissioned by GTC, reveals that over 95% of enterprises have deployed software-defined wide area networks (SD-WANs) or plan to do so within the next 24 months.  However, nearly half (42%) reported they either don’t have security integrated with SD-WAN or have no specific SD-WAN security at all.

Enterprises today are facing what IDC calls “storms of disruption:” waves of economic, political, and social disruptions that are hampering companies’ efforts to become “truly digital enterprises” – like the Russia-Ukraine war, global recession, and industry-wide skills gaps.  Networks need to support businesses in their move toward a cloud-native, digital-first, hybrid-working model of operation, and SD-WAN is now a cornerstone of network transformation, IDC stated in its GTT-commissioned study.

When asked to list the challenges they faced when taking a do-it-yourself (DIY) approach to SD-WAN, respondents cited difficulties related to hiring and retaining a skilled in-house workforce, keeping up with technology developments and the ability to negotiate favorable terms with technology vendors.

“Now that SD-WAN has matured and has been widely adopted, the complexity of deployments has grown, challenging enterprises on multiple fronts and compromising their ability to realize the full benefits of the technology,” said James Eibisch, research director, European Infrastructure and Telecoms, IDC.

“Enterprises are increasingly reliant on the resources and expertise of a managed service provider to ensure they deploy SD-WAN in a way best suited to their meet their organizations’ objectives. Security approaches like Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) [1.] that combine the benefits of SD-WAN with zero trust network access and content filtering features are well poised to dominate the next phase of SD-WAN enhancements as enterprises continue to enable the cloud IT model and a hybrid workforce.”

Note 1.  SASE, when combined with a SD-WAN overlay network, is seen as a less expensive way to get circuits exactly where they are needed — especially to remote locations — than using traditional architectures like IP-MPLS. Scaling the enterprise WAN out to more user devices and more locations also becomes easier, a necessity at a time when hybrid and remote working continues to be popular.

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The IDC survey found that more than 80% of respondents worldwide have either made SASE a priority (39%) or have recognized its benefits and are already incorporating it into company initiatives (42%). Only 19% of respondents worldwide reported they do not view SASE as a priority.

Despite this widespread recognition of the value of integrating security and SD-WAN, the survey found that many enterprises have not been able to leverage these benefits. In the U.S., 45% of respondents said they either don’t have security integrated with SD-WAN or have no specific SD-WAN security at all. In some countries, such as Switzerland and France, that figure was more than 50%. This trend held across vertical industries such as manufacturing (47%), retail (46%), healthcare (47%) and transportation (49%). Financial and business services were exceptions, with only 32% and 34%, respectively.  Seven out of 10 respondents (71%) worldwide expect to use integrated security in the next 12 months.

Image Credit: Fortinet

“This IDC study highlights the critical role of expert managed services support for enterprises deploying SD-WAN. Experienced managed services providers can help integrate technology, connectivity and security, while also managing costs and increased complexity,” said Lisa Brown, CMO at GTT. “The research shows that a DIY approach to SD-WAN presents a number of challenges that can be addressed by teaming with a managed services provider.”

When respondents who were adopting a managed services approach to SD-WAN were asked for their reasons, many said they wanted to outsource day-to-day management tasks. The top reason cited by respondents globally for using a managed services provider was the benefit of always-on help desk support in local languages, with 36% citing this as a reason. Running a close second, 35% cited visibility, insights and control without the need for technology certification as a benefit. In addition, 34% cited ease of configuration management; the ability to manage, maintain and facilitate technology upgrades; and better protection against security threats.

Todd Kiehn, SVP at GTT, told SDxCentral, “There will be a continued evolution to SD-WAN integrated with cloud security over the coming year. The IT organization is going to require ever-increasing visibility into the actions of the end user.  Consistently through our customers, prospects, CIO roundtables and through this recent research, the biggest obstacle enterprises are having in implementing new security solutions is finding and securing a staff with the necessary skills. The cybersecurity skill shortage particularly is a global problem.”

Companies that have no position on SD-WAN-specific security yet face the challenge of adopting these new technologies on their own or through managed service provider partnerships — either of which take time and resources.

“Enterprises can view SASE as a security architecture transformation alongside the deployment of SD-WAN. Our customers are deploying security to support their varied digital transformation initiatives such as work from anywhere, branch transformation or cloud migrations,” Kiehn noted.

“Security solutions based on the SASE framework provide choice and a roadmap to address the specific business needs of the enterprise such as enhancing the security posture of mobile users by replacing legacy VPN technology, improving security for guests and employees at brick and mortar locations, and developing a more comprehensive posture to support a hybrid cloud model,” Kiehn added.

About GTT:

GTT is a managed network and security services provider to global organizations. We design and deliver solutions that leverage advanced cloud, networking and security technologies. We complement our solutions with a suite of professional services and exceptional sales and support teams in local markets around the world. We serve thousands of national and multinational companies with a portfolio that includes SD-WAN, security, Internet, voice and other connectivity options. Our services are uniquely enabled by our top-ranked, global, Tier 1 IP backbone, which spans more than 260 cities on six continents. The company culture is built on a customer-first service experience reinforced by our commitment to operational excellence and continuous improvement in our business, environmental, social and governance practicesFor more information, visit www.gtt.net.

References:

https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2022/11/17/2558130/0/en/Enterprises-Embrace-SD-WAN-but-Are-Missing-Out-on-the-Benefits-of-an-Integrated-Approach-to-Security-According-to-a-New-Global-Study-Commissioned-by-GTT.html

https://www.sdxcentral.com/networking/sd-wan/definitions/software-defined-sdn-wan/

https://www.sdxcentral.com/articles/news/sd-wan-security-needs-a-refresh-idc-says/2022/11/

https://www.fortinet.com/blog/business-and-technology/do-you-want-an-sd-wan-with-security-features-or-a-secure-sd-wan

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