Digital transformation shaking confidence in SD-WAN


Cato Networks survey highlights importance of considering not only SD-WAN as an MPLS replacement but also its applicability to the broader needs of the digital business, such as cloud migration, network agility and global reach


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The fourth annual state of the WAN report, Networking in 2020: Understanding digital transformation’s impact on IT confidence in enterprise networks, surveyed 1,333 IT professionals across the globe, examining 2020 budgets, challenges and digital transformation readiness of today’s enterprises.


Respondents were asked about the state of digital transformation within their organisations and how it affected their confidence in their networks to support it. The survey captured their reactions across four characteristics – agility, security, performance, and management and operations.


By comparing their reactions before and after digital transformation Cato Networks was able to derive the change in network confidence. Results were further grouped by the respondents’ network architecture, such as MPLS, SD-WAN or secure access service edge (SASE).


The survey came to a surprising top-line finding that enterprises which had deployed SD-WANs were less confident in their networks after undergoing digital transformation. The results highlight the importance of considering not only SD-WAN as an MPLS replacement but, more importantly, its applicability to the broader needs of the digital business, such as cloud migration, network agility, global reach and a mobile workforce.


Most enterprises move to SD-WAN primarily because of site-related issues, but digital transformation involves more than connecting sites. Firms were also failing to consider the broader implications of digital transformation during SD-WAN selection, thus undermining network confidence. As a result, nearly three-quarters (74%) of SD-WAN respondents expressed having significantly less confidence in their networks after digital transformation.


"Nearly three-quarters of SD-WAN respondents expressed having significantly less confidence in their networks after digital transformation"

Cloud connectivity was revealed as a major factor, with 69% of SD-WAN owners indicating less confidence post-digital transformation.


SD-WAN was found to do little for security. Although most respondents (66%) cite defending against malware/ransomware as a primary security challenge in 2020, only 37% claim their SD-WANs help protect locations from malware and other threats. This was despite most respondents (66%) prioritising defending against malware/ransomware.


Secure mobile access, a strategic goal for IT executives, is ignored by SD-WAN. Managing mobile/remote access was the second most popular networking challenge for IT executives. More than half (52%) of respondents made enforcing corporate security policies on mobile users a primary security challenge for 2020. Yet, mobility is not included with SD-WAN.


Most respondents (