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Hybrid work drives demand for SASE, zero-trust networking

Aryaka report finds five key trends with 70% of CISOs seeking secure access service edge and software-defined WAN convergence for simplified infrastructure management

IT leaders are “drowning in complexity” as they battle to manage hybrid workforces, cloud adoption and the ever-evolving threat landscape, with more than four in five saying hybrid work is driving demand for secure access service edge (SASE), software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) and zero-trust networking, which are rapidly becoming essential tools for navigating the realities of the new complex work environment, according to research from Aryaka.

The service provider’s 2024 secure network transformation report surveyed 202 IT, security and network leaders across North America, EMEA and Asia. Revealing the industry's changing landscape, it found five key trends emerging, which are:

  • Networking and security are converging and IT leaders realise the benefits;
  • SD-WAN and SASE have reached maturity and are viable solutions;
  • Demand for cloud services and AI will drive SD-WAN and SASE adoption;
  • "Hybrid everything" is the future with a hybrid workforce and hybrid app deployments;
  • Zero-trust and application-level security continue to be critical to support "hybrid everything".

The report found the rise of hybrid work arrangements, coupled with hybrid infrastructure and security deployments, was fuelling the need for adaptable and secure network solutions. Noting the 81% of companies which said that hybrid work was driving demand for SASE and zero-trust networking, Aryaka said this highlighted the critical role these technologies play in connecting a complex, hybrid world.

SASE and SD-WAN are no longer seen as niche solutions, said the report. As many as 84% of respondents believed SASE was either mature or somewhat mature, with 91% saying the same about SD-WAN. Such recognition, observed Aryaka, positions SASE and SD-WAN as trusted, complementary tools for modern network security strategies.

In addition, 70% of respondents indicated that they see value in converging SASE and SD-WAN solutions. The primary benefits for doing so were multi-pronged - 34% wanted more robust network operations and security; 24% wanted less operational burden; and 19% wanted vendor consolidation.

Zero-trust networking was seen as becoming a cornerstone of hybrid-work security. The report revealed that as more organisations embrace hybrid work, securing access points becomes paramount. Almost two-thirds (64%) of survey respondents considered zero-trust security a crucial component of SASE for hybrid-work deployments.

The report also confirmed the continued momentum from enterprises moving away from expensive legacy multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) services. Three-quarters of respondents were planning to eliminate MPLS, either in the immediate future or in the next two-to-three years. Moreover, and significantly, a tenth of respondents had already eliminated MPLS completely.

Examining future technologies, the report warned that the exponential growth of cloud-based applications and services, including artificial intelligence (AI), was placing a notable strain on traditional network architectures. Aryaka stressed that such modern applications require secure, high-performance connections that can dynamically adapt to changing traffic patterns. The report found that 67% of respondents see managed services and SASE playing a greater role in managing these complex environments.

"Our report shows that the IT and network security landscape is undergoing a major transformation driven by the rise of hybrid work models and the ever-increasing adoption of AI and cloud-based applications and services," said Aryaka chief revenue officer Pete Harteveld.

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