It turns out that increased adoption of software-defined wide area networks (SD-WANs) is starting to drive additional demand for security appliances.
An SD-WAN is a type of software-defined network (SDN) that provides a layer of abstraction that makes it possible for a remote office to access applications over a standard Internet connection or leased MPLS line. Standard Internet connections are typically used to access cloud applications such as Microsoft Office 365 without having to backhaul all the network through a corporate data center. Because those remote offices rely on standard Internet connections, a new survey of 350 networking and security professionals conducted by Cato Networks, a provider of software-defined networking and security services, finds that organizations investing in SD-WANs are also deploying security appliances to secure those connections.
Even though MPLS leased lines come with backed-in security, IT organizations are opting for Internet connections because it’s easier to set up an Internet connection and costs are generally lower. It can take months for a carrier to provision an MPLS line.
Increasing security investments
The Cato Networks survey finds that just under half the respondents are either relying on global service provider (27 percent) or an Internet service provider (16 percent) to set up their SD-WAN. The rest are buying equipment to set it up either themselves or with the aid of their local solution provider. About 20 percent of the respondents are planning to deploy SD-WAN in the next 12 months, while about 10 percent have deployed them already. An additional 30 percent of respondents reported that their companies are considering deploying SD-WANs.
Among the respondents who plan to deploy an SD-WAN solution over the next 12 months, more than 50 percent anticipate increasing their investments in network security appliances as a result. Among respondents who had already deployed SD-WAN, more than half (53 percent) have increased their investment in security following the rollout.
Overall, half of respondents say they are increasing their networking budgets over the next 12 to 24 months. Most interesting from a carrier perspective, the survey also finds that 62 percent of the respondents who have already deployed SD-WAN say their MPLS investment has either increased or remained unchanged. That suggests most organizations are opting to implement hybrid SD-WANs that allow them to route traffic over either a standard Internet connections or MPLS line depending on the nature of the application workload.
Management opportunities for MSPs
Increased complexity coupled with major changes in terms of how network and security services are delivered and consumed at the branch office obviously creates some new opportunities for managed service providers. The real challenge is convincing internal IT organizations that SD-WANs are better suited to be delivered as a service rather than something akin to setting up a router.
Most internal IT organizations fail to appreciate how dynamic remote office environments are becoming in terms of accessing a much wider array of cloud applications. It’s generally only a matter of time before even those that have set up their own SD-WANs discover that deploying them may be one thing, but continuously managing them is quite another.