EMEA businesses turn to SD-WAN in spite of lack of education | SD-WAN cynicism and confusion reigns
Businesses in EMEA are significantly increasing their investment in cloud-friendly networking technologies, despite a lack of education and skill, according to the findings of a study of 410 IT and networking professionals released today by Barracuda Networks, the leader in cloud-enabled security and data protection solutions.
- 89% of EMEA organisations are either already using software defined wide area networking (SD-WAN), a technology that helps users access the cloud quickly and securely, or are considering it
- The biggest driver for implementing SD-WAN is to improve application performance between locations
- The IT C-suite is responsible for the most (28%) SD-WAN projects
- Eight in ten (82%) EMEA organisations think that their SD-WAN solution has lived up to expectations
- EMEA lags behind the rest of the world in SD-WAN knowledge: only three in ten (32.7%) fully understand SD-WAN, compared to a global average of 41%
- EMEA thinks SD-WAN has been overhyped, with over half (53%) of organisations thinking it is a buzzword and won’t revolutionise networking, higher than the US (42%) and APAC (51%)
- The number one issue for one in three (34%) who have deployed SD-WAN was a lack of internal skill and understanding
- Four in ten (43%) think SD-WAN will replace MPLS
- Almost two thirds (64%) believe there’s currently not enough SD-WAN training in their organisation
Cyber attack defence is EMEA organisations’ biggest priority
Perhaps unsurprisingly for a region where the financial and reputational cost of a data breach has never been higher, reducing the risk of cyber attacks is the main focus for organisations over the next 12 months, with over half (52%) choosing it as their top priority. This surpasses projects leveraging artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), automation and the Internet of Things (IoT), proving that businesses realise the importance of getting security right before embarking on more innovation-led development.
Security also came out on top as the biggest challenge when using cloud applications, with just under half (47%) choosing it as their number one issue. However, the biggest wide area network (WAN) challenge was performance to the cloud, with four in ten (42%) voting it as their top issue.
EMEA overwhelmingly turns to SD-WAN to reach the cloud securely and quickly
The findings suggest that EMEA organisations are taking advantage of SD-WAN to solve these latency and security issues across their cloud and WAN environments. One in four (26%) have SD-WAN deployed, with a further 64% either deploying or considering deploying it in the future, leaving just 7% with no SD-WAN plans at all.EMEA companies that have deployed SD-WAN have saved an average of $1,312,311 (USD) on MPLS and networking costs in one year.Click To Tweet
The biggest motivation for this is improving application performance between locations (chosen by 17%), closely followed by reducing security risks at remote locations (chosen by 16%). The IT C-Suite (CIO, CTO, CISO etc) is driving more than a quarter (28%) of EMEA deployments. This diverges from the rest of the world, where the IT networking team drives projects in 29% of cases. Decisions seem to be made higher up the chain in EMEA, as the CEO drives 8% of SD-WAN deployments, ahead of the US (5%) and APAC (7%).
An overwhelming 98% have benefited from SD-WAN, with increased network security (chosen by 46%) identified as the number one benefit. Much of the benefit is also financial: respondents estimated they could save an average of $1,312,311 (USD) on MPLS and networking costs in one year using SD-WAN. The vast majority of SD-WAN deployments are successful, with eight in ten (82%) agreeing their SD-WAN solution has lived up to their expectations.
EMEA has the least SD-WAN education
Despite its success, SD-WAN education in the EMEA region leaves a lot to be desired. Less than a third (32.7%) felt that they totally understood SD-WAN, falling far behind the US (57%) and APAC (41%). Whilst this may be more to do with hubris than reality, it’s seemingly leading to a lack of internal skill and understanding to deploy SD-WAN, which is highlighted by more than a third (34%) of EMEA respondents as the main issue following its deployment. For those who haven’t yet deployed the technology, a lack of internal skill is cited by three in ten (30%) as their biggest barrier, with a quarter (25%) not knowing enough about SD-WAN.
The future looks bright but myths persist in EMEA
Despite a perceived lack of education, the EMEA region is optimistic about SD-WAN. Four in ten (43%) think it will replace MPLS as the leading solution, whilst almost two thirds (63%) believe their WAN will become outdated if they do not embrace SD-WAN, meaning they will fall behind competitors.Even though most SD-WAN solutions need additional security to make them secure, 50% of the IT pros surveyed in EMEA believe the myth that their SD-WAN solution has everything they need to keep their networks secure.Click To Tweet
Perhaps in part due to the lack of SD-WAN education, over half (53%) think SD-WAN is a buzzword and won’t revolutionise networking, higher than the US (42%) and APAC (51%). Even though most SD-WAN solutions out there need additional security solutions to make them secure, half (50%) believe the myth that their SD-WAN solution contains everything they need to keep their network secure.
One in four (25%) of EMEA respondents also think the security of SD-WAN is worse than the combination of a corporate firewall and virtual private network (VPN), much higher than in the US (7%) and APAC (9%). While SD-WAN does have different security needs than traditional WAN, it can be just as secure.
The answer seemingly lies in training and recruitment
While many respondents admitted to a lack of education and skills around SD-WAN, they also suggested that the answer lies in training. Almost two thirds (64%) believe there’s currently not enough SD-WAN training in their organisation. For those who are deploying SD-WAN or considering it, just under half (48%) will train existing staff and 46% will hire new staff with specialist skills. In terms of what they look for in an SD-WAN solution, nine in ten (91%) think technical support and consultancy is important.
What does this all mean?
Well, for starters, this research clearly shows that the new European data regulation has definitely helped organisations in EMEA wake up to the reality of cyber threats, with many taking the plunge into SD-WAN as a result. It’s comforting to see that for many organisations, cyber security has become not only the number one focus for IT teams, but has also risen to a CEO level issue.
However we’ve clearly got a long way to go in terms of SD-WAN education – especially in EMEA as we have the least knowledge. It’s not surprising that against this backdrop of a lack of SD-WAN skills and education, some of the myths are prevalent. IT teams across the region seem to be crying out for more SD-WAN training. This is a wake-up call for the industry: we need to work together to better educate organisations around SD-WAN. Until we do, confusion will reign.