Aryaka, the cloud-first WAN company and #1 end-to-end managed SD-WAN provider, published its fourth annual global State of the WAN report, a global survey exploring the challenges and opportunities presented to IT network managers around their wide area network (WAN).
The report, which surveyed 1,100 respondents, reveals that application performance in remote locations and at the branch is the primary issue UK companies face. With network complexity and its resulting impact on performance now the top blocker to WAN implementation, cost has become less of an issue for respondents who now cite significant investment in automation, security, cloud connectivity, and are looking ahead to 5G.
The future of work, the WAN and the application performance problem
As the number of remote workers increases across the globe, productivity and remote application performance have become more important for EMEA organizations. 45% of UK businesses noted that slow application performance led to poor user experiences for remote and mobile users and is a significant issue faced by IT and support teams. In addition, accessing and integrating cloud and SaaS applications is one of the most pressing issues for UK IT departments, cited by 39%.
With a third of UK organisations regularly using over 500 applications, finding a solution to application performance issues has become urgent for UK businesses. While an agile and secure WAN can address these issues, WAN management is still problematic. The lack of adequate WAN security and the slow performance of on-premise applications are the top issues faced by UK organizations today, cited by 33%. In addition, 31% cite the complexity in managing and maintaining the WAN, along with a lack of visibility into the WAN as additional challenges.
“We are living in a complex multi-cloud and multi-SaaS application world. As global enterprises continue to innovate by embracing new technologies and migrating to the cloud, they also face new challenges, and the network is increasingly a strategic asset” said Shashi Kiran, CMO of Aryaka. “Whether it’s an increasing number of global sites through expansion, poor performing cloud-based applications, increasing costs or the time it takes to manage multiple vendors, many organizations are at an inflection point: transform the WAN now or risk falling behind and losing to competitors.”
New priorities, new needs
Businesses across the UK have acknowledged 5G as the most significant network initiative ahead of them, with 43% declaring 5G investment a priority. At the same time, organisations in the UK are also investing in big data and analytics, 42%, IT automation, 41%, and cloud/SaaS migration, 40%. Organisations are also showing a strong interest in new networking initiatives like cloud and SaaS connectivity upgrades, 39%, and cloud-based network management, 37%.
With the drive towards improved networking, businesses are now less worried about the cost of implementing and maintaining the WAN. In 2018, 40% of respondents across Europe cited high costs as the main concern. In 2019, this number fell to just 14% in the UK and 12% in Europe – lower than the global average of 16%. This responds to a growing market maturity and a better understanding of RoI in SD-WAN/WAN transformation projects.
Barriers to SD-WAN adoption
The adoption of SD-WAN is not without its hurdles. This year’s report revealed fears of increased complexity when deploying SD-WAN – with 36% citing this as the top barrier to adoption. 35% of UK IT managers also stated the technology is “too new”. The third barrier to SD-WAN adoption in the UK is the lack of the right skill sets for 33% of respondents.
Despite these misgivings, SD-WAN is gaining ground: In the UK, 39% are gathering information about the technology, and 30% are already evaluating vendors. UK organisations are also demanding more from their SD-WAN solutions – 42% in the UK demand cloud/SaaS connectivity, 41% want application acceleration and WAN optimisation. Should they deploy one, UK respondents stated they would choose a telco or MSP-provided option, 32%, over an SD-WAN vendor, 24%.
Companies should avoid losing focus on security
In the rush to transform the technologies in their businesses, companies might be losing sight of security – despite 40% stating security breaches as one of the main drains on European IT teams. Perhaps this is why the majority of respondents, 55% in Europe and 54% in the UK, would opt for a best-of-breed approach to SD-WAN security, 54%, with a managed firewall solution demanded by an overwhelming majority of 86%.
“Our SD-WAN research concurs with Aryaka’s survey results regarding application performance and complexity in enterprise networks,” said Bob Laliberte, Practice Director at ESG. “The desire for a WAN solution that delivers flexibility and simplicity speaks to the growing interest in managed SD-WAN offerings that combine cloud, application optimization, security, and support for remote workers.”