Enterprises embrace SD-WAN but missing out when it comes to security

New study commissioned by GTT examines the SD-WAN and security challenges of 650 enterprise ICT decision makers in 14 countries across Europe and the U.S.

GTT Communications has published the results of a new study that found over 95% of enterprises have deployed software-defined wide area networks (SD-WANs) or plan to do so within the next 24 months. But nearly half (42%) reported they either don’t have security integrated with SD-WAN or have no specific SD-WAN security at all.

The IDC White Paper,[1] sponsored by GTT, also found that enterprises experience multiple challenges when attempting to adopt SD-WAN on their own. When asked to list the challenges they faced when taking a do-it-yourself (DIY) approach to SD-WAN, respondents cited difficulties related to hiring and retaining a skilled in-house workforce, keeping up with technology developments and the ability to negotiate favorable terms with technology vendors.

“Now that SD-WAN has matured and has been widely adopted, the complexity of deployments has grown, challenging enterprises on multiple fronts and compromising their ability to realize the full benefits of the technology,” said James Eibisch, research director, European Infrastructure and Telecoms, IDC. “Enterprises are increasingly reliant on the resources and expertise of a managed service provider to ensure they deploy SD-WAN in a way best suited to their meet their organizations’ objectives. Security approaches like Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) that combine the benefits of SD-WAN with zero trust network access and content filtering features are well poised to dominate the next phase of SD-WAN enhancements as enterprises continue to enable the cloud IT model and a hybrid workforce.”

The survey found that more than 80% of respondents worldwide have either made SASE a priority (39%) or have recognized its benefits and are already incorporating it into company initiatives (42%). Only 19% of respondents worldwide reported they do not view SASE as a priority.

Despite this widespread recognition of the value of integrating security and SD-WAN, the survey found that many enterprises have not been able to leverage these benefits. In the U.S., 45% of respondents said they either don’t have security integrated with SD-WAN or have no specific SD-WAN security at all. In some countries, such as Switzerland and France, that figure was more than 50%. This trend held across vertical industries such as manufacturing (47%), retail (46%), healthcare (47%) and transportation (49%). Financial and business services were exceptions, with only 32% and 34%, respectively.

Still, seven out of 10 respondents (71%) worldwide expect to use integrated security in the next 12 months.

“This IDC study highlights the critical role of expert managed services support for enterprises deploying SD-WAN. Experienced managed services providers can help integrate technology, connectivity and security, while also managing costs and increased complexity,” said Lisa Brown, CMO at GTT. “The research shows that a DIY approach to SD-WAN presents a number of challenges that can be addressed by teaming with a managed services provider.”

When respondents who were adopting a managed services approach to SD-WAN were asked for their reasons, many said they wanted to outsource day-to-day management tasks. The top reason cited by respondents globally for using a managed services provider was the benefit of always-on help desk support in local languages, with 36% citing this as a reason. Running a close second, 35% cited visibility, insights and control without the need for technology certification as a benefit. In addition, 34% cited ease of configuration management; the ability to manage, maintain and facilitate technology upgrades; and better protection against security threats.


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