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SD-WAN revealed as key enabler for ‘new normal’ remote workforces

Research from software-defined network and cloud platform provider shows the increased importance of software-defined infrastructure to the new work environment

For the third year running, and with the backdrop of a vast increase in remote working due to the coronavirus, the Masergy SD-WAN market trends report has revealed that software-defined wide-area network (SD-WAN) adoption continues to grow, with an ever-increasing interest in managed and co-managed offerings to navigate the complexities of an integrated network and security system.

Digital enterprise software-defined network and cloud platform provider Masergy conducted the survey between 28 May and 3 June 2020, questioning 107 executives who held the title of director or above in an IT- or IT security-related role and were employed in a multinational organisation with revenue of $50m or more.

The research revealed the challenges posed in a work-from-home environment during the Covid-19 pandemic, with security and business continuity becoming top priorities. It concluded that it was not surprising to see the transformative impact of SD-WAN and increasingly deployed secure access service edge (SASE) systems become the new necessity for achieving secure remote access and reliable performance for cloud applications.

Conducted in partnership with IDG Research, the study analysed responses from IT decision-makers in global enterprises across a variety of industries. The findings revealed that security and network infrastructure were the top two areas of focus to ensure business continuity and enable the rise in remote working. Converging the network and security into a single strategy was also found to be a priority, as was having a managed service provider for assistance.

Inevitably, the survey showed an industry that has been redefined by the effects of the pandemic. Enabling remote work and collaboration tools are now top IT investments, with 44% of respondents prioritising the support of their homebound workforces.

Nearly two-thirds of respondents (64%) said they were investing more in network infrastructure than they did last quarter, and SD-WAN adoption trends have continued to rise in each study that Masergy has conducted. In 2020, just over half (56%) of respondents said they were piloting, installing or upgrading SD-WAN installations. In 2017, that number was 35%.

The study also revealed that security remained an overwhelming focus, with 91% of survey participants expressing interest in services that converged SD-WAN and security within a SASE environment. Multicloud connectivity ranked as a top SD-WAN capability (66%), driven by IT leaders looking to address the challenges of cloud application performance and communications continuity, said Masergy.

It also revealed that enterprises were shifting more towards wanting a managed SD-WAN solution, with 45% opting for a fully managed approach and 29% opting for co-managed, while just 25% prefer a do-it-yourself approach.

“With working from home emerging as the ‘new normal,’ supporting remote workers has increased the urgency with which IT departments are approaching their network, security, and cloud infrastructures,” said Becky Carr, CMO at Masergy. “As such, it is not surprising to see the transformative impact of SD-WAN and SASE solutions become the new necessity for achieving secure remote access and reliable performance for cloud applications.”

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