IDG study finds SD-WAN as key enabler for working from anywhere

Published on August 11th, 2020

The new normal is changing everything, and for the corporate network, that’s a good thing. Working remotely has triggered an “all hands on deck” modernization of business operations that is naturally spilling over into the network. As the key enabler of video conferencing, cloud applications, digital transactions, and VPNs for remote employees, the IT infrastructure has never been in the spotlight the way it is 2020. With all eyes on the WAN, the challenges of legacy infrastructures are being exposed with a new appreciation for the importance of network upgrades — most notably SD-WAN.

A new IDG Market Pulse research study, sponsored by Masergy, is helping tell this story through data.

And the data story comes with depth and breadth. The 2020 SD-WAN Market Trends survey is the third study in this research series, which dates back to 2017 when SD-WAN was still an emerging technology. The 2020 survey was performed after the global pandemic outbreak, uncovering today’s IT challenges along with the most recent shifts in SD-WAN buying behavior. Key findings identify SD-WAN as a foundational requirement for enabling the remote workforce and addressing critical security concerns that come with it.

Here’s what the study teaches us about IT decision makers from global enterprises across a variety of industries:

  • 71% say ensuring business continuity is their top business imperative and digital transformation is just one step behind — ranking at 70%
  • 44% are prioritizing the support of their homebound workforce — top areas for IT investment are enabling remote work and digital collaboration tools
  • 64% are investing more in network infrastructure now than they did before COVID-19
  • SD-WAN adoption continues to rise: This year, 56% said they are piloting, installing, or upgrading SD-WAN installations — in 2017 that number was just 35%
  • 91% expressed an interest in services that converge SD-WAN and security — also known as secure access service edge (SASE) solutions
  • 66% rank multi-cloud connectivity as the top SD-WAN capability
  • 75% use a fully-managed service or a co-managed SD-WAN service, meanwhile while just 25% prefer a do-it-yourself approach
  • Top factors in making the purchase decision:

Get the complete infographic

The big takeaway

The findings demonstrate that IT imperatives are being shuffled again in 2020. But, even as business continuity rises to the top of the priority list, digital transformation hasn’t slowed. And, SD-WAN is increasingly being included as part of the transformative effort needed to meet the requirements of today’s new work-from-home normal.

Security and network infrastructure are the top two areas of focus, because these are the investments helping IT leaders securely deliver on business continuity and ensure the efficiency that every remote worker demands. Bringing security and network improvements into one unified strategy is also key, but equally important is having the support of an SD-WAN provider who is versed at security as well as application performance management.

Also interesting to note is that the IDG findings largely echo those of other studies; we’re hearing a consistent message from IT decision makers. A recently released ZK Research survey found that working from anywhere has accelerated the SD-WAN investment timeline for 46% of IT leaders, with 58% stating that SD-WAN makes the transition to remote work easier. Additionally, a Q3 2020 Nemertes Research study shows 74.8% of IT leaders are directing their COVID-19 budget increases toward connectivity, including both internet and WAN services.

But, why is SD-WAN being seen as the go-to tool for working from home? SD-WAN’s transformative power comes from its ability to turn hardware into software and move security to the network edge, where branch offices and remote employees are connecting directly to the internet and to cloud services. SD-WAN helps IT teams maximize reliability for the cloud and video applications that are so critical today, but at the same time it creates a flexible environment that can securely extend remote network access to every employee’s home.

When your network edge has just become equivalent to the number of employees your company has, nothing seems to solve more IT problems than SD-WAN — and you can quote me on that.

Download the complete IDG 2020 SD-WAN Market Trends Report

Becky Carr

Rebecca (Becky) Carr heads up Masergy’s global marketing organization and is responsible for elevating the company brand and growth strategy. Becky has 25+ years of sales and marketing experience across technology, software and telecom industries. Prior to Masergy, she was the Global Head of Marketing at Avaya. She has also held Chief Marketing Officer positions at CoStar, Savvis/CenturyLink and Foxwoods Resort & Casino, and led global business marketing for Verizon Business/MCI. Becky earned her bachelor of arts from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, NY.

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