Confidence in SD-WAN Shaken by Digital Transformation, Finds Cato Networks IT Survey

January 21st, 2020

SD-WAN is set for strong growth in 2020 as buyers migrate from MPLS to a more agile and affordable alternative. Survey findings suggest focusing on SD-WAN for MPLS replacement and failing to fully consider digital transformation requirements undermines long-term SD-WAN satisfaction.

TEL AVIV, Israel, January 21, 2019 — Cato Networks released the findings of its fourth annual State of the WAN report, “Network Transformation in 2020: Understanding Digital Transformation’s Impact on Enterprise Confidence in their Networks.” With 1333 IT professionals responding from across the globe, the report provides comprehensive insight into 2020 budgets, challenges, and digital transformation readiness of today’s enterprises.

The survey finds that enterprises who deployed SD-WANs were less confident in their networks after undergoing digital transformation. The results highlight the importance of considering not only SD-WAN as an MPLS replacement but, more importantly, its applicability to the broader needs of the digital business, such as cloud migration, network agility, global reach, and a mobile workforce.

“Enterprises need to anticipate their future requirements if they’re to remain confident in their WAN transformation,” says Shlomo Kramer, CEO and co-founder of Cato Networks. “Thinking only about MPLS replacement leads to incremental, point solution acquisitions when confronted by digital initiatives, making their networks more complex and costly to run.”

Survey Findings Capture Enterprise Confidence in Their Networks Before and After Digital Transformation

We asked respondents about the state of digital transformation within their organizations and how it affected their confidence in their networks to support it. We captured their reactions across four characteristics – agility, security, performance, and management and operations. By comparing their reactions before and after digital transformation we were able to derive the change in network confidence. Results were further grouped by the respondent’s network architecture, such as MPLS, SD-WAN or SASE (secure access service edge)*

Specific findings include:

Failure to consider the broader implications of digital transformation during SD-WAN selection undermines network confidence.

  • Nearly three quarters (74%) of SD-WAN respondents expressed having significantly less confidence in their networks post digital transformation.
  • Cloud connectivity was a major factor with 69% of SD-WAN owners indicating less confidence post-digital transformation.
  • Only 37% of SD-WAN respondents claimed to be able to protect locations from threats post deployment, even though most respondents (66%) prioritized defending against malware/ransomware.

Most enterprises move to SD-WAN primarily because of site-related issues but digital transformation involves more than connecting sites.

  • Most respondents (56%) consider SD-WAN to reduce WAN costs. Network agility as it applies to sites — whether in the form of faster site deployment or increasing bandwidth – is also popular.
  • SD-WAN does little for security. Although most respondents (66%) cite defending against malware/ransomware as a primary security challenge in 2020, only 37% claim their SD-WANs help protect locations from malware and other threats.
  • Cloud applications are key to the enterprise but not native to SD-WAN. Most respondents (60%) say that cloud applications will be the most critical to their organizations over the next 12 months, even more critical than applications hosted in their private datacenters. Yet SD-WAN solutions require additional software and integration to support the cloud.
  • Secure mobile access, a strategic goal for IT executives, is ignored by SD-WAN. Managing mobile/remote access was the second most popular networking challenge for IT executives. More than half (52%) of respondents made enforcing corporate security policies on mobile users a primary security challenge for 2020. Yet, mobility is not included with SD-WAN.

Only enterprises with SASE architectures showed increased network confidence post digital transformation.

  • Most respondents (62%) with a SASE architecture are more confident about their networks after digital transformation. By contrast, only 26% of SD-WAN respondents are more confident in their networks.
  • The cause likely stems from the close alignment of SASE’s capabilities with digital transformation requirements. The market segment recently defined by Gartner converges networking and security into a global, cloud-native service that uses SD-WAN to connect sites, client/clientless access for mobile users, and native cloud integration to support cloud resources.

Overall, respondents are optimistic about networking and security in 2020 with more than half expecting to adopt some form of SD-WAN.

  • More than half (56%) of respondents expect their networking budgets to grow in 2020. The vast majority (73%) of respondents indicate the same is true for their security budgets.
  • Site connectivity continues be the major driver of networking challenges in 2020. The three leading primary networking challenges for 2020 all related to site connectivity — bandwidth costs (46%), performance between locations (46%), and managing the network (44%).
  • Advanced threat protection, mobile security, and operational efficiencies are the major security challenges in 2020. More specifically, respondents most often cited: “Defending against emerging threats like malware/ransomware” (66%), “Enforcing corporate security policies on mobile users,” (52%) and “The cost of buying and managing security appliance and software” (51%).
  • SD-WAN outlook is bright for 2020. Most respondents (66%) will have some kind of SD-WAN deployed by the end of 2020. What’s more, 40% of MPLS respondents will have converted to SD-WAN.

To learn more about what’s in store for the networking and security in 2020, download the complete survey results here.

*Survey Methodology Explained

To measure network confidence, we first asked respondents about the state of digital transformation within their organizations. We then asked respondents claiming to be moderately or extremely involved in their company’s digital transformation initiative, whether they agreed (+50), were neutral (0), or disagreed (-50) with a series of positive statements reflecting their network’s characteristics — agility, security, performance, and management and operations.

For example, two of these statements were: “Adding bandwidth and functionality to our existing WAN is easy and can be done within a couple of days.” and “We can provide the infrastructure to move an application to a new public cloud provider within a couple of days with necessary security, manageability, and performance.”

For each for the four characteristics, we derived an average score. The network confidence score captures the change before and after digital transformation. We further segmented respondents by the type of network – MPLS, hybrid networks (MPLS and Internet-based VPN), SD-WAN, and SASE.

About Cato Networks   

Cato is the world’s first SASE platform, converging SD-WAN and network security into a global, cloud-native service. Cato optimizes and secures application access for all users and locations. Using Cato, customers easily migrate from MPLS to SD-WAN, optimize global connectivity to on-premises and cloud applications, enable secure branch Internet access everywhere, and seamlessly integrate cloud datacenters and mobile users into the network with a zero trust architecture. @CatoNetworks.