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How are digital business transformation projects impacting enterprise networks? To answer that question, we asked more than 1,600 IT professionals worldwide. The report, Telcos and the Future of the WAN in 2019 focuses on those 432 who purchase telco services for organizations with MPLS backbones.
Repeatedly we heard that SD-WAN continues to serve as the basis of their digital transformation efforts. No surprise there. What’s perhaps more interesting, though, is the shift towards managed services. The need for predictable delivery across the global network to site, cloud resources, and mobile users while at the same time developing a security architecture that can accommodate local Internet access is pushing many companies to turn to managed SD-WAN services. The traditional source of those services, the telcos, inadequately address customer expectations around speed, agility, and overall value.
SD-WAN: It’s Not Just about Costs
Since SD-WAN burst onto the market, cost savings have been routinely cited as the reason for deploying the technology. Yes, SD-WAN can take advantage of affordable Internet connectivity to reduce network spend but there are many other advantages, namely agility and improved cloud performance, that also come with SD-WAN.
Respondents echoed similar results in this year’s survey. Only a third of respondents indicated that their motivation for purchasing SD-WAN was to address excessive WAN-related costs. The other motives? The highest ranked ones involved improving Internet access (46%), followed by the need for additional bandwidth (39%) and improved last-mile availability (38%).
WAN Transformation is the New Normal
No surprise then that more companies should be adopting SD-WAN as the basis of WAN transformation. In fact, the percent of organizations transforming their WAN has grown considerably since our last survey. Nearly half of respondents (44%) indicated that they had or were considering deploying SD-WAN. Last year the number was just over a quarter of respondents.
With that said, digital transformation puts requirements on the network that exceed the capabilities of SD-WAN. The overwhelming majority of respondents (85%) indicated they would be confronting networking use cases in 2019 that are ignored or out-of-step with SD-WAN technology.
Security is a case in point. SD-WAN alone says nothing about defending the company edge. Half of the respondents will need to provide secure Internet access from any location with the biggest security challenges being defending against malware/ransomware (70%) and enforcing corporate security policies on mobile users (49%). All of which is out-of-scope for SD-WAN alone. Taming those security challenges is critical for SD-WAN to improve cloud performance and reduce network costs.
Managed Services Will Be Essential for WAN Transformation
With so many components and complexities, most respondents (75%) are turning to service providers for their SD-WAN design and deployment. Providers are generally better equipped to integrate SD-WAN with other technologies to address broader IT challenges.
Legacy telcos are the de facto source for managed SD-WAN services but not the preferred ones. Respondents remain overwhelmingly dissatisfied with telco agility, velocity, and support:
- Respondents gave telcos a 54 (out of 100) when asked if they thought network service pricing was fair.
- On overall experience, telcos scored lower (3.33 out of 5) than cloud application providers (3.70) and cloud datacenter providers (3.71).
- Only 2% of respondents indicated that telcos exceeded their expectations in delivering new features and enhancements.
Day-to-day network operations prove difficult with traditional telco services. Nearly half (46%) of respondents reported that moves, adds, and changes (MACs) require at least one business day (8 hours or more). Nearly three-quarters of respondents indicated that deploying new locations required three or more business weeks.
Managed Service Blended with Cloud Attributes
There remains a strong interest in network services with cloud attributes of agility and self-service. Flexible management models are essential to this story. More specifically,
- 71% of respondents indicated that telcos take too long to resolve problems.
- 48% complained about the lack of visibility into telco services
- 80% preferred self-service or co-management models instead of full management model required by traditional telcos.
It’s why we believe so strongly that managed SD-WAN services must use a cloud-native architecture. To learn more about cloud-native networks and the results of that research, download Telcos and the Future of the WAN in 2019.