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New normal sees SASE, SD-WAN surge as MPLS is phased out

Research confirms that MPLS is ‘out’ and SD-WAN and SASE systems are the clear winners in enterprise networking as more and more European organisations are eliminating all on-prem datacentres, with cloud adoption steaming ahead

The Sixth State of the WAN report from Aryaka Networks has revealed a clear shift in networking priorities in the Covid-shaped business environment, with SD-WAN (software-defined wide area networking) and SASE (secure access service edge) the clear winners as firms evolve from being based on MPLS (multiprotocol label switching) networks and on-premise datacentres are phased out.

The cloud-first SD-WAN firm surveyed more than 1,600 senior IT professionals in Europe, Asia and the Americas, and the report was grouped into four major themes that cover top enterprise business outcomes and areas for investment: the acceleration of remote and hybrid work, application performance and complexity, managed services adoption, and SASE. ­

­The survey showed that the hybrid workplace continues to be top of mind, with over two-thirds of respondents expecting at least a quarter of their employees to remain remote post-pandemic and a quarter saying they have closed 25-50% of their sites. ­This dovetails into overall hybrid work plans, with 25% expecting 51-75% of their employees to remain remote post-pandemic, and 43% expecting 25-50% to remain remote.

Supporting this hybrid workplace is still an issue, with the survey noting “lacklustre” application performance being a time sink (42%) and security a major priority (34%).

Some 85% of EMEA businesses said MPLS was something they would not be reinvesting in, and nearly two-fifths of European organisations were eliminating all on-premise datacentres as cloud adoption steams ahead because of permanent remote working.

In the domain of application consumption and performance, Aryaka saw cost (36%) and complexity (31%) trading places over the past year, reflecting a renewed interest in return on investment, while application performance issues (26%) were still of concern. For China, compliance and regulatory issues (50%) were of higher importance than basic connectivity issues (30%), while Microsoft­ Teams (58%) and 365 (55%) have pulled into the lead on enterprise adoption. Zoom (35%), Salesforce (28%) and SAP/Hana (25%) also continue to gain traction.

To manage complexity in their networking environments, enterprises were found to be looking for a more complete set of offers – an all-in-one SD-WAN and SASE that includes the WAN (45%), security (67%), application optimisation (40%), last-mile management (29%), and multicloud connectivity (27%). ­They were found to be less concerned than in previous years about how new technology was performing (28%), any skills gaps (31%), and whether applications would perform properly (29%).

Many are on the road to eliminating some, if not all, of their legacy datacentres (51%), migrating from MPLS (46%), and addressing the need for visibility and control (69%). ­In evaluating an SD-WAN, they were moving further through the evaluation cycle, with 11% having deployed and were confident overall on both networking and security budget growth, with a quarter expecting it to grow by 25% or more.

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Looking at network and security convergence, supporting the hybrid workforce and the perennial pain point, staffing, were the top concerns. Many firms were identified as being on their way to SASE adoption by setting their strategy (35%), phasing out of legacy VPNs (32%), and consolidating cloud security and zero-trust (29%). ­

Firms were seen to have a greater awareness of desired capabilities such as an SWG (47%), SD-WAN (36%) and firewall as a service (FWaaS) (28%). However, potential barriers to effective deployment included whether to go single or dual vendor (39%), the complexity of the implementation (40%), and setting a migration strategy (33%). This was balanced by expected advantages that included time and cost reduction (37%) and agility (33%).

Many security deployments today are multi-supplier (44%) and hybrid (44%), reflecting the complexity of the typical enterprise, while decision-making is still many times distributed, although 41% said it is now consolidated. More than two-thirds were looking to a managed service.

Commenting on the report, Aryaka Networks chief marketing officer Shashi Kiran said the pandemic appearing as a temporary reality distortion has become the new normal, changing the way businesses connect and collaborate the world over, elevating the strategic importance of the WAN further and placing emphasis on how applications are consumed. ­

“The move to the cloud and adoption of cloud-first architectures have therefore become table stakes as technology leaders help businesses navigate the pace of change,” he said.

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