SD-WAN has become foundational in today’s digital era that puts more demands on network capabilities. New research from IDG shows that 90% of enterprises are now either actively researching the technology or have it in production, an increase from 69% in 2017. Enterprises everywhere are considering and prioritizing an investment, but how are IT executives working through the SD-WAN selection process? IDG’s findings show that many factors come into play, with top consideration factors as security (81%), network visibility and control (77%), and in-house talent (75%). In this blog, we evaluate these three selection factors, exploring the key challenges and components of each.
Most SD-WAN solutions don’t adequately address security, and some ignore it altogether—leaving the burden of security entirely to the customer.
Whether you’re using a DIY approach or working with a managed SD-WAN service, there are inherent security risks, particularly when deploying SD-WAN over public broadband connectivity. This increases the attack surface for bad actors, requiring additional firewalls and 24/7 monitoring. All in all, SD-WAN security can become more complex without the right tools and processes in place.
SD-WAN hardware is also not necessarily built to be secure. In some cases, these appliances have no firewall capabilities at all and act only as proxies. In other cases, these devices may not have the most up-to-date operating system when shipped to the customer location, making checking for appliance security updates critical. Bundled SD-WAN solutions can also pose security risks without tight policy integration amongst teams. For example, a network team may mistakenly assume that a security team knows about a new SD-WAN deployment and will take care of it, leaving critical security monitoring tasks disregarded.
Investing in a single, integrated SD-WAN platform helps to simplify security and can be an effective way to mitigate security risks. Learn more with our comprehensive SD-WAN security guide. Masergy, for instance, offers bundled SD-WAN solutions that include next-generation firewalls with unified threat management by default. These SD-WAN bundles scale up to provide enterprises with turnkey access to our global security operations center (SOC) that delivers 24/7 security monitoring and management services leveraging threat intelligence, machine learning, and behavioral analytics.
Not all software-defined networking solutions offer the level of visibility and control enterprises need. For example, some SD-WAN devices can’t interoperate with your existing network infrastructure. Others, meanwhile, can lack a single dashboard for a unified view. Fragmented data and controls negatively affect network optimization.
In these environments, IT managers will find it more difficult to effectively troubleshoot outages or service issues, which will make pinpointing root causes require more time and effort. In fact, IT teams are often plagued by cross-examining and reconciling multiple network admin portals with vendors pointing fingers. These WAN management complexities can make a significant impact on productivity. Studies from Nemertes Research show that enterprises with at least 90% of the WAN converted to SD-WAN see a 33% reduction in time spent troubleshooting and a 20% reduction in staff time required to run the WAN.
Visibility and control are also critical for security, playing a large role in helping organizations understand how data and traffic flow across the IT environment. Without deep levels of visibility, it’s much harder for a team to effectively investigate threats or recognize lateral movements and other signature signs of an attack. Evaluating behavior across the network becomes more challenging, which decreases security posture and threat response time.
As organizations work to digitally transform, the IT skills gap is quickly widening. Over 60% of IT leaders recently surveyed by KPMG report that their organization is held back by a lack of skills, the highest the firm has recorded since 2008. IDG similarly found “skills gaps concerns” to grow in prominence between 2017 and 2019.
SD-WAN cannot risk overburdening the IT team, yet this often seems to be the case. Many teams quickly find that they cannot handle the amount of time and/or resources that it takes to implement and manage SD-WAN internally. Even if the organization does have the necessary skills to deploy and manage their own solution, the question remains whether this is the most valuable use of those in-house resources in the age of digital transformation initiatives. There is also a substantial cost associated with owning, maintaining and refreshing capital infrastructure. Integrated and managed solutions, can help retire old equipment and transfer from a CAPEX to OPEX model and reduce the hardware footprint.
Organizations are recognizing that they need to partner with an experienced service provider who can bring implementation best practices and support staff for ongoing network performance monitoring and optimization efforts. While many solutions on the market might look alike from a hardware/features perspective, the services and security offerings vary widely. The difference is what lies beneath. Learn more about the current state of the market and how managed SD-WAN services differ in this guide.
New research from Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) shows that 90% of enterprises want platforms that support end-to-end SD-WAN management. An effective managed SD-WAN solution provides:
The right partner should intelligently meet the critical challenges and goals of the IT staff as it supports the organization’s evolution toward digitization. This means offering a simple and effective path to network expansion while easing the process of implementing new technologies and/or business processes to enhance efficiency, improve responsiveness and reduce costs along the digital transformation journey.
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