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Optimising application connections, improving security posture top SD-WAN priorities

Research looking into key drivers behind global SD-WAN investments find deployments are mainly driven by need to optimise network connections to cloud-based applications and improve overall security posture

Research from managed network and security services provider GTT Communications has revealed that complexity, risk and pace of innovation are driving as many as 80% of businesses and their leaders to evolve software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) offerings as frequently as every two years.

The Unlocking the potential – understanding managed SD-WAN adoption report was undertaken by Hanover Research and surveyed 230 IT, operations and networking security decision-makers from the US and Europe at companies driving over $100m in annual revenue. Its findings are said to highlight the strategic importance of SD-WAN in enhancing connectivity to cloud services and ensuring access to critical resources supporting productivity and operational agility, while bolstering cyber security measures against ever-evolving threats.

The topline finding was that enterprises were found to be experiencing increasing network complexity and risk, brought on by rapid data traffic growth, reliance on cloud-based applications and the shift to distributed workforces.

Current SD-WAN deployments are mainly being driven by the need to optimise network connections to cloud-based applications (86%) and improve overall security posture (81%). Moreover, nine in 10 businesses said improving cyber security posture was their main driver behind adoption, whereas fewer North American organisations (83%) agreed with this.

Four-fifths of enterprises were found to be conducting regular upgrades of their SD-WAN offerings within two years – with around a third of these (34%) doing so every year.

Organisational awareness and readiness in the area of security was also reflected by the research data, with 100% of those surveyed reporting that they plan to integrate security when deploying SD-WAN either as a multiple supplier, best-in-class choice (70%) or single stack, single supplier offering (30%).

Managed service providers (MSPs) are increasingly being called upon to deploy and manage SD-WAN services. According to the research, 77% of the organisations surveyed that are currently using SD-WAN have partnered with an MSP.

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The results are also said to reflect the importance of SD-WAN as a foundation for the enterprise networking and security stack. SD-WAN continues to see rapid cross-industry growth and technology enhancements, marked by the integration of artificial intelligence and automation features.

Notably, it’s also a key component in the convergence with advanced security championed by the secure access service edge (SASE) framework, which integrates managed cloud-based security – also known as secure service edge (SSE) – and SD-WAN into a complete offering.

“As organisations become more digital, distributed and data-driven, managed SD-WAN continues to provide the foundation for the flexibility, security and efficiency needed to address their use cases and deliver the right business outcomes,” said Tom Major, senior vice-president of product management at GTT.

“Rapid innovation and security convergence through frameworks like SASE are driving shorter cycles for solution reviews and upgrades,” he said. “Managed service providers can help organisations address their need to evolve, based on the ongoing technological innovations in this space, as well as the added complexity of selecting the best networking, security and connectivity for their businesses to align cost, performance and security requirements.”

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