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Confusion surrounds SD-WAN and SASE pitches

Research from Accelerate reveals the problems that resellers are having when they go out to talk to customers about their networking options

Now might not be the time for the channel to push the SD-WAN pitch, with customers also looking at SASE as a technology that is worth investing in.

The knock-on impact of coronavirus has been to shake up some of the strategies and give users a chance to pause and consider which direction they want to go in.

Research from IT consultancy Accelerate, in the firm’s The future of SD WAN in a UK economy report, has looked into the current attitude towards SD-WAN and found there was widespread confusion between the technology and SASE, with half of the respondents keener on the latter option.

The pandemic has shifted large number of workers into a home environment where security has become perhaps a more pressing concern than performance. Many employers are trying to work out what the “new normal” will look like, but many industry observers expect a good proportion of those current at home to remain there in the future.

In a nutshell the Accelerate findings revealed that a third of organisations have no plans to deploy SD WAN, with the cloud based-SASE offering, which brings together SD WAN features with hosted security services as being the preference. Not far off half of those quizzed indicated that WAN optimisation already gave them the performance enhancements they needed.

Darran Clare, managing director of Accelerate, said that there was a clear message for resellers to be flexible in providing both SD-WAN and SASE where possible to avoid missing out on a sale.

“SD-WAN has just taken off and this happened and we are hearing customers are putting SD-WAN on hold.” He added that the technology still had a place but the channel had to be aware of the current market trends.

One size doesn’t fit all

“We talk a lot about one size doesn’t fit all,” he said, adding that the expansion of home working had stirred discussions about infrastructure. “You have to put the right foundations in place, if you were in a branch office or the head office.”

“There is clearly confusion concerning the capabilities of SD WAN, and how best to implement the technology. SD WAN, while delivering undeniable value, has not managed to serve the entire needs of all organisations during the work from home directive. Covid-19 presents an enormous and evolving challenge as we look to return to a ‘new normal’ way of working with many employees continuing to operate from home,” he said.

Given that SASE is a relatively newly coined technology the research indicated that customers already have a firm grasp in the technology. Those customers that are putting security above performance in their wish list have already seen the potential, and many are keen to secure workers that are sharing their home networking infrastructure with their families.

“The remote worker challenges introduced by Covid-19 have naturally shifted peoples’ focus from site-to-site WANs to the needs of a more flexible workplace, hence the increased interest in SASE architectures,” he said.

One of the other takeaways for the channel was that there seems to be plenty of life in WAN optimisation, with many customers reporting that it adequately deals with their performance issues.

“We also see concrete proof that WAN optimisation is far from dead, and such services can play a key part in improving the performance of cloud-hosted applications where latency is the underlying issue,” he added. “[Many respondents] said that WAN optimisation still delivered what they needed it to do.”

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