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Survey Says SD-WAN Adoption Fueled by Security Concerns

Implementations of SD-WAN, one of the hottest areas of software-defined networking (SDN), are growing rapidly, driven primarily by security concerns, according to new research from Versa Networks.

The SD-WAN specialist commissioned Dimension Research to conduct the survey, which resulted in the report titled "SD WAN Adoption is Accelerating to Reduce Security Risk."

"Securing the corporate WAN is the top challenge for network professionals, with complexity cited as the most difficult obstacle," Versa said. "These challenges are driving more than 85 percent of companies to consider SD-WAN specifically to increase security and reduce appliance sprawl."

Speaking to that network complexity contributing to security problems, the report said more than half (54 percent) of survey respondents reported having experienced a security breach.

"Not surprising is that the move to multi-cloud and SaaS is revealing additional attack vectors that have also created a more treacherous threat environment for the enterprise," said Versa exec Rob McBride. "Consequently, the explosion of multi-cloud infrastructure and SaaS applications that are driving today's rapidly evolving network have also caused WAN security to be a top priority for numerous network professionals."

SD-WAN Security Findings
[Click on image for larger view.] SD-WAN Security Findings (source: Versa Networks).

One factor contributing to complexity in the enterprise network is the reliance on direct Internet connections (reported by 74 percent of respondents), combined with the associated need to deploy more devices to combat threats and other risks.

"This growing number of devices ultimately increased the time to provision new branch locations, taking longer than a month for more than a third (32 percent) of surveyed organizations," Versa said.

Other data points from the survey include:

  • 68 percent of respondents said that deploying and managing network security devices at branch locations was the most challenging aspect of WAN management, followed by increasing costs (53 percent) and information security risks at the branch location (49 percent).
  • More than a third of respondents cited growing complexity attributed to expansion of multi-cloud infrastructure, a rapidly growing number of SaaS applications and an increasingly distributed mobile world as the most challenging aspect of managing network security at the branch.
  • More than half (57 percent) of organizations said that increased risk and expanding attack surface due to direct internet connection at the branch was the primary motivation for SD-WAN adoption.
  • Lack of understanding about SD-WAN technology and qualified personnel to implement it represented the two biggest barriers to SD-WAN adoption at 60 percent and 58 percent respectively.

Versa said 309 participants across five continents at organizations that have more than 1,000 employees and have network responsibilities participated in the December 2017 survey, whose primary goals were to capture how companies managed and secured their network across branch locations and investigate expected benefits and challenges of a software-defined WAN (SD-WAN).

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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