Accelerated WAN Transformation During Pandemic, According to EMA Research

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A majority of enterprises have accelerated their SD-WAN-based transformation during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new study published by IT and data management research and consulting firm, Enterprise Management Associates (EMA). Enterprises are transforming their wide-area networks (WANs) to improve security, network visibility, and application performance in their data center environments.

Based on a survey of 303 enterprise IT professionals, new research from EMA explores the state of WAN transformation amidst an unprecedented business environment introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has encouraged many enterprises to accelerate that transformation, according to this new report titled ‘Enterprise WAN Transformation: SD-WAN, SASE, and the Pandemic.’

Software-Defined WAN

Wide-area networks (WAN) have gone through profound transformation over the last six years, says EMA. Cloud services have been a major driver of this change, as has the emergence of the Internet as a source of affordable, high-bandwidth WAN connectivity. In the middle of the last decade, software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) technology emerged to enable this transformation.

“The majority of enterprises accelerated SD-WAN-based transformation during the pandemic, according to our report,” said Shamus McGillicuddy, vice president of research, EMA. “IT organizations believe SD-WAN can protect business continuity during a public health crisis through improved network security, enhanced network visibility, and optimized application performance.”

EMA’s WAN transformation research examines all aspects of SD-WAN projects, from procurement preferences and architectural choices to network operations strategies. For instance, EMA found that IT organizations need more operational visibility in SD-WAN, despite the fact that SD-WAN solutions offer strong native monitoring capabilities. Ninety-one percent of network teams supplement native SD-WAN visibility with third-party monitoring tools. The research also found that using third-party monitoring tools with SD-WAN is a best practice.

SASE Solutions

Photo Shamus McGillicuddy, vice president of research, EMA
“IT organizations believe SD-WAN can protect business continuity during a public health crisis through improved network security, enhanced network visibility, and optimized application performance,” said Shamus McGillicuddy, vice president of research, EMA.

Finally, the EMA research reveals that 73% of IT organizations are engaged with secure access service edge (SASE), a unified and centrally managed combination of SD-WAN, cloud-based security, and secure remote access solutions. However, only 10% of companies claim to have fully implemented a SASE solution. Many are still researching and evaluating the technology.

This independent WAN transformation research report published by EMA was sponsored by Juniper Networks, Kentik, LiveAction, and VMware. Founded in 1996, EMA is a leading industry analyst firm that provides deep insight across the full spectrum of IT and data management technologies. EMA analysts leverage a unique combination of practical experience, insight into industry best practices, and in-depth knowledge of current and planned vendor solutions to help their clients achieve their goals.

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