Why SD-WAN May Not Be the Networking Answer for Digital Transformation

Why SD-WAN May Not Be the Networking Answer for Digital Transformation

Enterprises implement software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) to answer challenges around extending network capabilities to branch locations. According to a recent survey, what SD-WAN doesn’t do so well is accommodate digital transformation.

The “Networking in 2020: Understanding digital transformation’s impact on IT confidence in enterprise networks” report included the responses of 1,333 professionals in IT. The survey focused on digital transformation and its relationship to the network infrastructure designed to support it. It gathered responses on four areas: agility, security, performance, and operations.  

IT professionals were pursuing digital transformation with a variety of networking approaches, including multi-protocol label switching (MPLS), SD-WAN, or secure access service edge (SASE).

The key finding of the survey was that enterprises that implemented SD-WAN were less certain about their networks while undergoing digital transformation. The results show that it’s important to not only consider SD-WAN in terms of replacing or augmenting MPLS, but also how it relates to the long-term needs of a digital company. Cloud migration, global reach, mobility, and network agility are all areas to consider in light of a networking upgrade.

In fact, 74% of respondents using SD-WAN reported having significantly less certainty in their networks’ ability to support digital transformation. When it came to cloud connectivity, 69% of those using SD-WAN reported a lower level of confidence following digital transformation. 

Security was also a concern. While 66% of IT professionals participating noted that defending networks against malware or ransomware was a significant security challenge, only 37% reported that SD-WAN offered protection against these threats.

Another area of concern is managing mobile or remote access. Fifty-two percent of participants in the survey said that applying corporate policies for security to mobile users represented a major security challenge that’s not addressed by SD-WAN.  

SD-WAN is often a priority for enterprises seeking to reduce WAN costs while improving network agility. This can come in the form of increasing bandwidth or through faster site deployment. However, enterprises also need to support the utilization of cloud applications, which are becoming more central to enterprise IT strategy but are not native to SD-WAN. SD-WAN requires additional integration and software tools to support cloud solutions. This finding comes even as 60% of respondents said that cloud applications are critical to their enterprises.

The survey found that only enterprises using a SASE approach to networking demonstrated an increased level of confidence in their network after digital transformation. This may be because SASE more closely aligns with the demands of digital transformation.

If your enterprise is considering a network infrastructure upgrade, contact us at Clarksys. We can help you determine not only your current network needs, but also examine them in light of upcoming digital transformation initiatives to ensure your network is supported into the future.