Survey: Growing SD-WAN Adoption Slowed by Cost Concerns, Skills Gap

Although the software-defined wide-area network (SD-WAN) movement has taken the point position in the penetration of new-age, software-defined networking (SDN) into the enterprise, it has been slowed by cost concerns and a skills gap, says a new study.

Sponsored by SD-WAN vendor Masergy and conducted by IDG Research, the new 2019 SD-WAN Market Trends Survey finds that despite those barriers, SD-WAN adoption is rising, with improved security a primary driver.

Top SD-WAN Adoption Challenges
[Click on image for larger view.] Top SD-WAN Adoption Challenges (source: Masergy/IDG Research).

The May 2019 survey was combined with results from a similar July 2017 survey to reveal trends over time. Key findings from the 2019 survey include:

  • Optimizing the network to support cutting-edge technologies remains the top WAN objective (61 percent) among survey participants.
  • Security (50 percent) is the top WAN challenge and the leading factor (81 percent) guiding companies in the SD-WAN selection process.
  • The skills gap (46 percent) remains a top barrier to SD-WAN adoption, whereas concerns regarding interoperability with existing WANs are less prevalent than they were two years ago.
  • SD-WAN adoption rates increased from 35 percent to 54 percent over the past two years, with 90 percent of respondents’ actively researching, piloting, actively using or upgrading SD-WAN.
  • Network management simplification (46 percent) continues to be the top expected IT benefit of SD-WAN adoption, and the top three expected business benefits of SD-WAN are increased efficiency, improved security, and cost savings.
  • Increased efficiency, improved security, and cost savings are more often cited as expected business benefits of SD-WAN when compared to the 2017 survey
  • Respondents place less importance on centralized policy and configuration management when researching SD-WAN solutions today (44 percent, down from 58 percent in 2017), while continuing to look for solutions that offer secure local Internet connectivity (52 percent) and cloud connectivity (48 percent).
  • Confidence in WAN architecture to support future goals has grown since 2017, with 68 percent in the May 2019 survey reporting they are extremely or very confident.
  • When compared to the July 2017 survey, there is a slight increase in the percent indicating SD-WAN will complement (39 percent) or replace (11 percent) existing WAN services. Smaller organizations more frequently report they will replace existing WAN services (19 percent vs. 2 percent among larger enterprises).

The new survey was conducted via an online questionnaire from May 1 through May 8, with qualified respondents required to work in an IT-related function at manager level or above for a private sector organization with 500 or more employees. The new survey had 100 qualified completes, compared to 103 in the July 2017 survey.

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.


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