A sea-change is occurring in enterprise networking as the adoption of SD-WAN continues to rise, according to Dr. Jim Metzler, co-founder and principal analyst with consultancy Ashton, Metzler & Associates. Dr. Metzler’s commentary on the state of the WAN market, made on a webinar hosted by Apcela, show that SD-WAN adoption is still being driven by cost considerations, but growing numbers of enterprises are looking at ways to leverage SD-WAN to increase their business agility as well as provide increased security.

Dr. Metzler is an authority on enterprise networking technology who has regularly conducted surveys of network professionals. During the webinar, Metzler said enterprises are increasingly leveraging SD-WAN to enable better network connectivity to remote and branch offices, noting that 24% of respondents to the “2017 State-of-the-WAN Report” are using SD-WAN to increase application availability to branch offices and remote users.

Customers are finding SD-WAN services represent an improvement over MPLS networks in terms of reducing OpEx, increasing application performance and availability while also enabling them to add bandwidth more quickly.

Looking ahead, Metzler reported that his survey found that four out of five companies are in various stages of planning to use or having already implemented SD-WAN technologies. Just as important – Metzler highlighted the strategic role SD-WAN is playing in enabling the evolution of the network beyond just moving bits and bytes around. Indications of this include:

  • Interest in a broad set of security and optimization functionality (32% of respondents)
  • Receptivity to SD-WAN solutions that offer L4-L7 services (22% of respondents)

On the webinar, Metzler discussed another interesting indicator of SD-WAN’s important role in overall IT strategies, namely, the strong support for having some WAN functionality hosted in the cloud. Whereas historically, enterprises only hosted networking equipment in their internal datacenters and branch offices, there has been a gradual growth in support for cloud-based solutions, he said. Other factors driving interest in cloud-based functionality for WANs include:

  • A desire for protection of WAN edge points
  • Interest in edge computing to solve latency issues
  • Leveraging machine learning to improve network automation

Metzler said that sometimes enterprises are not aggressively implementing SD-WAN, citing a lack of a compelling business reason to adopt the technology. Other inhibitors of adoption include challenges associated with implementing SD-WAN on their own and integrating the solution with their existing WAN, with some typical issues including:

  • Unanticipated difficulties in installation
  • Increased complexity of operations
  • Challenges in troubleshooting performance/configuration issues

At Apcela, every day we see more organizations adopting network-as-a-service solutions to quickly get the benefits of SD-WAN. They are using AppHUB in order to gain more control over their network. With Apcela’s Applications Monitoring Solution and the Apcela Enhanced Analytics Platform (EAP), we’re giving customers tools that help them keep applications running with the performance their end users demand.

To learn more about the findings from the State of the WAN report, view the full recording of our webinar here. After viewing, do not forget to take our Cloud-ready WAN Assessment.