Aryaka’s 4th Annual Global State of the WAN – Complexity and Performance Top Challenges

This week we released our latest SOTW report, canvassing over a thousand IT experts from across the global as to their WAN challenges and plans. We’ve also developed a set of recommendations, based on the survey results, for CIOs and network administrators. The survey identifies some important year-on-year trends, detailed below, and we also conducted a more comprehensive geographic analysis. So, please download the ebook, the infographic, and join us for a panel webinar at a convenient time for your region. This is the first in a series of blogs that will look at different aspects of the survey.

Key Observations

A common theme is application performance, hostage to complexity, skills gaps, and the set of diverse services expected to be supported by a WAN that is expected to be a catalyst for Digital and WAN Transformation. CIOs and their IT practitioners are increasingly critical of the impact of bad WAN designs and implementations upon performance and employees productivity, and expect the WAN to be an enabler vs a hinderance for Digital Transformation. This of course applies to any SD-WAN investment. Cloud connectivity, security, and even WAN optimization continue to be major areas of invest, while the respondents identified remote access as a major area of investment and integration into SD-WAN planning, even before the current pandemic.

Year-on-Year Analysis

Complexity Impacts Performance – Hurdle to WAN Transformation

Complexity (37%) is the new leader, growing from 35% in 2019 and only 13% in 2018. This ultimately leads to poor application performance for both on-prem (32%) vs 23%, and cloud apps (32%) vs 24%. It replaces cost, dropping from 40% in 2019 to 16% in 2020. For end-to-end performance, only 9% of respondents state that they have no issues, down from 35% in 2019.

Addressing Application Performance Issues to Increase Business Productivity

Application performance continues to be the biggest area of investment of time for IT organizations. This spans remote workers (47%), growing from 36% in 2019, the branch (43%), down from 45%, and integration of cloud and SaaS application origins (42%), growing from 20%. Evidence is that remote workers are placing additional burden upon the network. Managing telcos grew from 16% in 2018, 29% in 2019, to 34% this year.

Unified Communications as-a-Service A Perennial Challenge, While The Networks is Strategic to the Performance of Voice and Video

Set-up and management (48%) is the new top challenge, growing from 28% in 2019. This replaces poor voice or video as well as lag/delay as the top concern, highlighting both complexity and network performance. Respondents with no stated issues dropped from 25% in 2019 to 12% this year.

Automation is Key and a Driver for IT Transformation

IT departments plan to invest in automation (41%), which is the new leader, growing from 31% in 2019. Cloud migration moved from 31% to 36%, analytics from 28% to 33%, and security dropping from 34% to 30%

Security and SD-WAN Convergence is Top-of-Mind, With Hybrid Models Delivering Flexibillity

54% look to multiple vendors for the edge, but only 44% in the cloud. CIOs want end-to-end security with hybrid flexibility, with deployment at the edge or in the cloud, and with the ability to leverage their existing vendors. SASE is now part of the discussion.

Enter 5G

42% are looking to invest in 5G, followed by IoT at 29%, AI/ML at 27%, and Blockchain at 21%. 5G is receiving interest as a potential primary form of SD-WAN connectivity.

Remove SD-WAN Barriers Though Managed Services

SD-WAN application performance is now top-of-mind, at 43% vs 13% in 2019, followed by the skills gap (40%) vs 31%, increased spending (35%), the previous leader, and additional complexity (34%) vs 25%. These are all areas addressed by a managed service.

Consider a Managed SD-WAN For Agility and Enhanced Service Delivery

There is growing SD-WAN managed service acceptance (87%) vs 59% in 2019, and IT organizations are looking for their adopted SD-WAN deployment to integrate diverse capabilities including WAN optimization (42%), the cloud (41%), and security (40%), and MPLS replacement (35%). Support for remote workers grew from 21% in 2019 to 33% in 2020. The services integrated track last year’s survey, and the major advantage of a managed service is that it can offer these features, while reducing operational complexity and ensuring performance.

About the author

David Ginsburg
Dave is currently VP of Product and Solutions Marketing at Aryaka, bringing to the company over 25 years of experience spanning corporate and product marketing, product management, digital marketing, and marketing automation. Previous marketing leadership roles included Cavirin, Teridion, Pluribus, Extreme, Riverstone Networks, Nortel and Cisco. His expertise spans networking, cloud deployments, and SaaS. Dave lives in Los Gatos with his wife, two daughters, and two dogs.