How Critical Is Your Network? Survey Reveals SD-WAN Insights

In recent years, SD-WAN technology has exploded in popularity, quickly becoming one of the most important parts of a hybrid network. Gartner’s Andrew Lerner noted that these solutions enable streamlined, cost-effective networking as well as the ability to better manage branch resources from a central site. And while the SD-WAN market is still young, Lerner and other experts are predicting rapid growth as more enterprises look to establish a smart, seamless network.

Recently, Talari Networks surveyed more than 400 businesses about their IT infrastructure, and the results demonstrate just how important the network is to today’s enterprises. Let’s take a look at some of the most important findings from Talari Networks’ Report for Enterprise Networking Survey:

The wide area network: A mission-critical asset

With resources including real-time applications and cloud platforms being increasingly relied on, companies in nearly every sector are now expecting more from their networks. In addition to top-notch performance, users also expect continual reliability, making the WAN an essential part of corporate activity.

Talari’s survey shows that a reliable network is now considered mission-critical for nearly every organization, with more than 95 percent of respondents noting that they rely on the WAN for their most important enterprise tasks.

“95 percent of companies rely on the WAN for their most important enterprise tasks.”

What’s more, survey respondents here operate in a range of different sectors, including finance, government, health care, manufacturing, retail and legal. This shows that while certain markets might leverage different infrastructure assets, the need for WAN reliability is shared across nearly every vertical.

The current network: Top pain points

While the corporate WAN is no doubt one of the most important assets for a business, today’s companies still deal with a range of pain points. The survey uncovered some of the most common network challenges corporations are seeking to address, including:

  • 35.5 percent noted that their most impactful pain point was a network disruption that negatively affected critical applications. In these cases, users have difficulty accessing the platforms they need to do their jobs, or are completely unable to utilize the features of these apps. This not only lowers productivity, but can impact customer service and the company’s overall brand reputation.
  • 17.6 percent stated that poor performance during network spikes was the worst issue they faced. When a large number of users attempts to utilize network resources, it can hamper access and cause real-time and other applications to slow to a crawl. This is a particularly problematic when it affects client-facing resources tied to the corporate WAN.
  • 10.9 percent pointed to monitoring, reporting and visualization as their biggest WAN pain point. A lack of proper visibility and management can prevent enterprises from utilizing their resources to their best benefit, and can also lead to shadow IT or security issues.

Other pain points include:

  • Inadequate vendor support (10.4 percent).
  • Link load balancing (9.7 percent).
  • Network complexity stemming from devices that are difficult to install and maintain (7.2 percent).
  • Inability to scale across multiple corporate locations (6 percent).
  • SLA accountability from the firm’s broadband provider (2.7 percent).

While these problems are common in many enterprises, an SD-WAN solution can address and help eliminate these issues. The technology is able to measure key performance indicators of each and every data packet, ensuring the critical performance of essential resources even in the face of traffic spikes or network disruptions. And with granular visibility into all locations across the WAN, through the data center and even into cloud environments, the IT team is always up to speed about its network infrastructure.

Network spending increases

As businesses realize the advantages that this type of network solution can offer, more companies are allocating financial resources to technology to enhance the WAN. Organizations spent more than 40 percent of their IT budget on network solutions last year, with cloud infrastructure coming in at 31 percent. What’s more, this trend is poised to continue in 2016, with 38 percent of IT spend set aside for network solutions. Overall, more than 90 percent of companies plan to increase spending on network upgrades and changes over the next five years, with almost half of enterprises seeking to spend as much as 20 percent more on these solutions.

The WAN is one of the most mission-critical assets of business.

What’s needed in the network?

The survey also discovered important insights about what companies need from their current WAN. As businesses boost their network spending, they are seeking solutions that can deliver enhanced resiliency and reliability, as well as reduced operating costs and more streamlined management.

When it comes to SD-WAN technology specifically, most organizations are looking for a system that can either integrate with their existing WAN or easily replace it. In addition, businesses require an SD-WAN solution that can enable efficient load sharing across a range of WAN connections, while providing secure virtual private network access.

The current state of SD-WAN: Getting off the MPLS treadmill

As more businesses look to address their critical pain points with an SD-WAN solution, decision-makers are finding that there are multiple approaches to potentially take here. Of the businesses that do have SD-WAN in place, nearly half – 46.7 percent – are leveraging a hybrid strategy that includes both internet and MPLS connections. In addition, 22.8 percent utilize internet only with their SD-WAN, and 20.8 percent have only MPLS in place.

At the same time, however, more network administrators are considering technology that requires a rip-and-replace approach. Currently, more than 72 percent of companies would examine solutions that demand that MPLS be removed and upgraded with broadband connectivity. Another 24 percent wouldn’t consider MPLS alternatives today, but would re-evalulate in the next five years.

As MPLS alternatives like cost-effective broadband internet become more attractive, businesses are seeking the best ways to get off the MPLS treadmill, so to speak. There are a few key steps to consider here, including:

  1. Leveraging the freedom to choose the best WAN connections, supported by an SD-WAN solution.
  2. Obtaining real-time details on network performance.
  3. Gleaning oversight into service provider SLAs.
  4. Creating the best network possible with an SD-WAN – one that doesn’t solely depend on legacy MPLS.

“IT should have the freedom to use the highest bandwidth and most affordable WAN connectivity for their locations without sacrificing enterprise-grade reliability and security,” Talari Networks pointed out in our recent white paper. “With a Software Defined WAN (SD-WAN) and big data network analytics, IT can have a smarter network that leverages broadband connectivity, but delivers service levels that are as good – if not better – than MPLS.”

For more information on transitioning away from MPLS to create a more robust network, check out our white paper, “4 Easy Steps to Get off the MPLS Treadmill,” today. Here, you’ll find best practices and insights alongside real-world success stories from actual companies that have adopted SD-WAN.

SD-WAN: Supporting the mission-critical corporate network

A resilient, reliable corporate WAN is one of the most powerful assets for today’s businesses. An SD-WAN solution like that provided by Talari Networks can proactively measure important benchmarks such as latency, jitter, packet loss and availability, intelligently routing traffic to the best path. This ensures that top network pain points are addressed and employee users have the dependable network access and support they need to be productive members of the workforce.

To find out more about what an SD-WAN solution can do for your enterprise, contact Talari Networks for a custom demonstration today.

Categories: Software Defined WAN (SD-WAN), IT Challenges, Network Reliability, Business Continuity, Internet as WAN (MPLS Alternatives)