Enterprises want improved application performance, less complexity in SD-WANs – report

Network complexity at the edge and in the cloud are top concerns for IT professionals in managing the WAN.

Kelsey Ziser, Senior Editor

April 22, 2020

6 Min Read
Enterprises want improved application performance, less complexity in SD-WANs – report

Application performance and network complexity are top of mind for organizations deploying SD-WANs, according to a report by SD-WAN supplier Aryaka.

"Modern applications are being distributed across on premises data centers, multiple public clouds (IaaS & SaaS) and edge locations. This is creating more complexity and greater dependency on the network to ensure optimal application performance as confirmed by the Aryaka report," said Bob Laliberte, sr. analyst and practice director at ESG, in a statement. "Organizations need WAN solutions that deliver performance, flexibility and simplicity to overcome that complexity. This is driving interest in managed SD-WAN offerings that combine application optimization and secure connectivity, to any location, from any location, including access and support for remote workers."

In its fourth-annual global State of the WAN report, Aryaka surveyed over 1,000 global IT and network practitioners in January about their networking strategies and performance challenges. Respondents represented nine countries at companies in over 15 verticals, headquartered in NA, APAC and EMEA.

Aryaka's David Ginsburg says the observations gathered from the survey are especially relevant considering the current COVID-19 pandemic. "The survey was conducted in January, about 45 days before the pandemic, but we're finding that most of the observations are even more applicable in the current environment especially as it relates to being able to manage [the WAN] in a lights-out operation or handling remote workers, and utilizing collaboration applications – that's top of mind right now."

Network complexity in the WAN
Network complexity at the edge and in the cloud are top concerns for IT professionals in managing the WAN; 37% said complexity is their top concern, followed by 32% focused on slow on-premise application performance, and 32% concerned with slow access to cloud and software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications. Security was also a top concern for 31% of respondents. Last year, cost was the top concern for respondents (40%) but dropped to 16% this year.

Figure 1: (Source: Aryaka) (Source: Aryaka)

One reason IT managers could be struggling with network complexity is due to the increase in the number of multi-cloud cloud applications they're managing. The number of enterprises utilizing over 10 SaaS applications nearly doubled in this year's survey (51%) versus in 2019 (23%). Respondents reported using AWS, Azure, Google, IBM, Oracle and Alibaba Cloud for their SaaS applications, and companies deploying over 100 applications rose from 43% in 2019 compared to 59% in 2020.

Rate of SD-WAN adoption
Aryaka's survey also examined progress in SD-WAN adoption and found that many respondents are still in the information gathering stage (44%) of deploying SD-WANs. About 23% are in the vendor evaluation stage; 11% building a business case; 13% in deployment; 6% deployed and satisfied with results; and the remaining 2% have deployed but are unhappy with their SD-WAN service.

"The maturity of the SD-WAN market is no longer in question," explained Cliff Grossner PhD, senior research director, cloud and data center research practice, at Omdia in a statement last week. "Although there is still a lot of education to do in some markets, the business has reached a stage when SD-WAN vendors are focusing on explaining to customers why a particular offering is best and how it aligns with strategic corporate directions. The net effect of this is that sales cycles are becoming shorter."

For enterprises in the evaluation stage of deploying an SD-WAN, top barriers to deployment included concerns over application performance, knowledge gaps and complexity of deployment. Aryaka's report noted that cost is less of a consideration for enterprises considering SD-WAN deployments than in previous years – likely because SD-WAN ROI is better understood as the market has matured.

This was the first year Aryaka asked a question about 5G in the survey – 42% said they are looking to invest in 5G. The survey also revealed that 5G is of interest as a potential primary source of connectivity for SD-WAN.

Next page: Enterprises Moving to Managed SD-WAN

Enterprises Moving to Managed SD-WAN
Respondents revealed what they want most out of a successful SD-WAN deployment, which includes cloud and WAN optimization, NFV (35%), support for remote workers (33%), SD-WAN as a managed service and security features. The survey also outlined a rising trend in enterprises' interest in SD-WAN as a fully managed service – 37% expressed interest this year versus 28% in 2019 – instead of a DIY deployment. Also, 87% of respondents would consider a managed SD-WAN as compared to 59% in 2019, which is likely due to enterprises' desire for reduced network complexity and better application performance.

A recent report by Omdia echoes enterprises' growing interest in deploying SD-WAN as managed service. According to Omdia, "Market growth is being driven by service providers that are acting as sales channels for SD-WAN vendors' over-the-top solutions by offering SD-WAN technology as a managed service bundled with other services."

Revenue for SD-WAN appliance and control and management software market spiked by 75% in Q4 of 2019 as more service providers provided SD-WAN as part of managed-service bundles, reports Omdia. SD-WAN market revenue hit $639.5 million in Q4, up from $364.5 million in Q4 2018. In total, SD-WAN revenue grew 90% to reach $2 billion in 2019, up from $1.1 billion in 2018.

As enterprises have hit some roadblocks in attempting to deploy SD-WAN on their own, they're increasingly looking to a managed service provider to assist with deploying an SD-WAN with "more complete end-to-end WAN optimization, bringing in regional multi-cloud connectivity that includes connections into SaaS applications, and includes security – which was a major theme in the survey last year and this year," says Aryaka's Ginsburg.

Figure 2: Graph courtesy of Aryaka. Graph courtesy of Aryaka.

Although more enterprises are interested in managed SD-WAN services, about a third of respondents expressed frustration in working with telcos on SD-WAN – 28% of respondents said it still takes over a month for activation of SD-WAN services, and 34% expressed dissatisfaction in working with managing telcos/service providers on SD-WAN services. However, 37% would consider deploying managed SD-WAN from a telco and 27% from a managed service provider.

"The number of organizations considering a managed service went up significantly, which is probably reflective of a growing awareness and acceptance in North America of a managed model, which was always strong in the rest of the world," says Ginsburg. "This is really good from the standpoint of those offering a managed SD-WAN service."

— Kelsey Kusterer Ziser, Senior Editor, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Kelsey Ziser

Senior Editor, Light Reading

Kelsey is a senior editor at Light Reading, co-host of the Light Reading podcast, and host of the "What's the story?" podcast.

Her interest in the telecom world started with a PR position at Connect2 Communications, which led to a communications role at the FREEDM Systems Center, a smart grid research lab at N.C. State University. There, she orchestrated their webinar program across college campuses and covered research projects such as the center's smart solid-state transformer.

Kelsey enjoys reading four (or 12) books at once, watching movies about space travel, crafting and (hoarding) houseplants.

Kelsey is based in Raleigh, N.C.

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