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APAC firms warm up to SD-WAN to solve networking woes

A third of enterprises in the APAC region have already deployed SD-WAN at most of their sites, while 55% are in the process of doing so, a study shows

More enterprises in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region are turning to software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN) to address networking challenges resulting from the exponential growth of internet traffic as usage of cloud services increases.

According to research commissioned by Barracuda Networks, a third of APAC enterprises have already deployed SD-WAN in most of their sites, while 55% are in the process of doing so.

Some 78% of IT leaders also said they risked losing a competitive advantage if they did not update their WAN technology.

The common advantages of SD-WAN cited by APAC respondents in the global study were better network security (67%), connectivity (66%) and improved application performance (63%).

More than half (54%) of respondents noted that they had also reduced overall costs with SD-WAN, and 40% reduced costs typically associated with traditional Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) services.

The key drivers of SD-WAN implementations in the region were the complexity of existing WAN setups (54%), rapid network expansion leading to security concerns (53%) and network performance between locations (53%).

In a separate study, technology analyst firm IDC noted that worldwide SD-WAN infrastructure and services revenues will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 69.6%, reaching $8.05bn in 2021.

In Southeast Asia, almost 56% of organisations have already deployed or are planning to deploy SD-WAN in their networks, according to IDC. Out of these, nearly 30% singled out the policy-based control and WAN optimisation capabilities of SD-WAN as top drivers for implementing the technology.

Nikhil Batra, IDC Asia-Pacific’s senior research manager for telecoms, said most WAN traffic today – to and from branch and remote sites – is destined for the cloud, either to cloud-based or hosted applications.

“The traditional WAN was architected for branch-to-datacentre traffic flows, not to efficiently support new cloud-driven traffic patterns,” he told Computer Weekly, noting that enterprises that are still using traditional networks will face performance challenges and operational issues.

For example, besides the need to support diverse requirements and applications from different business units, traditional network architectures are too rigid to support the agility that organisations are looking for in expanding into new markets.

The growing prevalence of shadow IT and remote access to applications outside the safe realms of the traditional WAN have also introduced more network complexity, making traditional WAN inherently less secure, Batra said.

With as many as 80% of organisations using some sort of cloud-based services today, traditional WAN does not offer the predictable and reliable performance of SD-WAN offerings.

“SD-WAN are all about WAN transformation for the cloud era, helping to ensure branch offices and remote sites are configured consistently to connect users to applications, while assuring security, optimising network and application performance, and reducing complexity and costs in the process.”

Take Pet Lovers Centre, for example. The regional pet retailer has been using SD-WAN to link up more than 100 stores across Southeast Asia to improve security. Although it had considered MPLS connectivity, it turned to an SD-WAN service that offers cloud-based firewalls and other security services.

“We did not want to be held hostage to the costs of MPLS and wanted a security solution that would be scalable and simple,” said David Ng, CEO of Pet Lovers Centre.

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