55% of respondents will deploy SD-WAN in 1-2 years
We regularly see reports about the adoption of SD-WAN and growth of the market. I lately had a call with Robert McBride from Versa Networks who introduced me to this survey of Dimensional Research which Versa sponsored.
I find the questions in this survey and the answers provided to them by the 309 respondents interesting and relevant to the panel I will be moderating next month at the Paris Upperside Conferences MPLS+SDN+NFV World Congress as part of the afternoon Security Session.
The survey is enterprise focused with respondents from diverse segments such as financial services, technology, healthcare and manufacturing were 47% of the companies are mid-size (1000-5000 employees), 31% are enterprises with 10,000 employees or more and 22% are companies with 5000-10,000 employees. As mentioned above, altogether 309 people with network responsibility answered the 2017 survey while 308 answered the 2016 one.
Instead of going through all the questions I’ll give my conclusions after going through the responses and crossing data points between the responses to the different questions.
As a start, here is an infographic summarizing the survey, click to enlarge.
Large enterprises typically don’t allow for every branch to connect directly to the internet, they have one or just a handful of central locations to which all branches connect to in order to connect to the internet, that’s right, even when you watch a YouTube video, that traffic goes through that central location. Reasons for this are mainly related to security and control. In many cases, the connection of all branches with that central location is over MPLS.
Since only 31% of respondents are from large enterprises (10K employees and above), and since the architecture detailed above is common mostly among those large enterprises, we see that 74% of respondents do allow for direct access to the internet from branches.
All these factors collectively lead to the fact that security risks derived from direct connectivity to the internet and the hope to reduce MPLS cost by directing some of the traffic over other interfaces, are the main drivers for SD-WAN adoption. This is because SD-WAN combined with cloud-based security allows branches to connect over broadband to a cloud SD-WAN + security service and from there connect to the internet hence, increase security and reduce traffic running over MPLS.
The third leading driver is the need for network agility.
When we look at what IT professionals see as their main challenges managing their company’s WAN, the hurdles of deploying and managing network and security devices at every branch comes in first. SD-WAN is viewed as a technology that allows performing these functions through central management. This was actually found to be the strongest challenge respondents have selected (68%).
The answers respondents provided to the question about the time it takes to provision a branch office WAN shows us there is still lack of agility in enterprise WAN as over 60% of the respondents indicated that provisioning a branch WAN would take a month or more. This is in nice correlation with the answers to the question about SD-WAN deployment where only 18% answered that they have started deploying SD-WAN. since one should assume that respondents have interest in SD-WAN (else they wouldn’t have been exposed to the survey or chose to answer it), clearly the adoption numbers are much lower. The bright side is that there is a lot of growth expected in this market.
A word about MPLS cost reduction
Many see SD-WAN as the answer to reduce MPLS cost. This is a wrong approach due to 2 reasons.
First, MPLS prices are going down. Sure when you look at a single price point of low bandwidth for a single location, price per MB will be high. But when looking at proposals from global service providers for enterprises looking for MPLS for many branches globally, suddenly price per MB falls significantly so when comparing it to the pricing of symmetric business broadband it doesn’t seem to be such a rip-off.
Second, cost of SD-WAN is not as low as expected, especially when combined with the broadband connectivity cost assume enterprises opt for business grade broadband.
SD-WAN shouldn’t be viewed only as a way to reduce cost, rather it should be viewed as the new WAN built for digital transformation, cloud services and a way to answer the need for enterprise network agility.
Get access to the survey
Learn about the 3 strategies for an SD-WAN solution
Never miss a post. Subscribe to TheNewDialtone