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Survey: Enterprises Losing Confidence in SD-WAN Security


A recent survey commissioned by CATO Networks reveals that enterprises that deployed SD-WANs were less confident in their networks after undergoing digital transformation. The survey polled 1,333 IT professionals worldwide and provided insights into the 2020 budgets, challenges and digital transformation readiness of enterprises.

The survey asked respondents about the state of digital transformation within their organizations and how it affected their confidence in their networks to support it. Four primary characteristics were measured: agility, security, performance and management and operations. The survey also looked at the level of confidence that respondents had in their SD-WAN architecture after completing a digital transformation project. Results were grouped by the respondent’s network architecture, such as MPLS, SD-WAN or SASE (secure access service edge). 

For the most part, respondents noted that a disconnect between SD-WAN selection and digital transformation planning undermined overall confidence in their SD-WAN’s ability to meet future needs. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of SD-WAN respondents expressed having significantly less confidence in their networks post-digital transformation. What’s more, 69% of respondents cited that confidence in the ability to connect to the cloud dropped post-digital transformation.

Those statistics reveal that many enterprises are not viewing the symbiotic relationship of SD-WAN deployment and the digital transformation process. Most of the respondents (56%) primarily considered SD-WAN adoption as a way to reduce WAN costs. After all, SD-WAN technology is promoted as a way of bringing management and intelligence into wide-area networking as a way to make connectivity more economical. 

However, digital transformation drives different factors in an enterprise, such as transforming legacy applications into cloud-delivered services. That can impact the selection of SD-WAN solutions. Most enterprises move to SD-WAN primarily because of site-related issues but digital transformation involves more than connecting sites, especially when it comes to security.

For example, only 37% of respondents claimed to be able to protect locations from threats post-deployment, even though most respondents (66%) prioritized defending against malware/ransomware. Further illustrating the security challenges is that some 52% of respondents made enforcing corporate security policies on mobile users a primary security challenge for 2020, something that SD-WANs typically are not capable of. That realization has led some to seek platforms beyond the typical SD-WAN.

Case in point is secure access service edge (SASE), a market segment recently defined by Gartner that converges networking and security into a global, cloud-native service using SD-WAN to connect sites, client/clientless access for mobile users and native cloud integration to support cloud resources. Although it is an emerging technology, some 62% of respondents believed that a SASE architecture would increase the level of confidence in the network post-digital transformation. 

The survey also asked respondents about their connectivity plans for 2020. More than half (56%) of respondents expect their networking budgets to grow in 2020. The vast majority (73%) of respondents indicate the same is true for their security budgets. SD-WANs also seem to be on the top of most respondents’ minds, with 66% expecting to have some kind of an SD-WAN deployed by the end of 2020. Respondents also noted their top three primary networking challenges for 2020 were related to site connectivity, with 46% stating that bandwidth costs remained a challenge, 44% citing network management as a challenge and 46% saying the same about performance between locations.

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While there are still many concerns around SD-WAN platforms, numerous vendors are promoting technologies such as SASE or other security-focused WAN solutions as a way forward. With budgets set to increase, more options will become readily available to those seeking to deploy SD-WANs that are easy to both manage and secure and improve performance. Primary players in the space include Cato Networks, Cisco Systems, Cloudflare, Fortinet, Palo Alto Networks and Zscaler, with Gartner expecting several vendors to have complete SASE portfolios by the end of 2020.  



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