Enterprise WAN Transformation: SD-WAN, SASE, and the Pandemic

Executive Summary

This report explores the state of WAN transformation amidst an unprecedented business environment introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic. It takes a comprehensive approach at reviewing how enterprises evaluate, implement, and operationalize SD-WAN. It looks at early engagement with SASE and it examines how the pandemic has affected WAN transformation.

This report summarizes the findings of new research, based on a survey of 303 IT professionals, that explores the state of WAN transformation in 2020. It looks at the adoption of the internet for frontline WAN connectivity and identifies best practices for SD-WAN implementation and operationalization.

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The Transformation of WAN

Wide-area networks (WAN) have gone through a profound transformation over the last six years. Cloud services have been a major driver of this change, as has the emergence of the internet as a source of affordable, high-bandwidth WAN connectivity. In the middle of the last decade, a set of technologies emerged to enable these transformational drivers. The industry referred to this technology as software-defined WAN (SD-WAN).

Exploring the Hybrid WAN

Before examining SD-WAN engagement, EMA first explored a major driver of SD-WAN adoption: the hybrid WAN. Managed WAN services, such as MPLS, continue to play a significant role in enterprise networks, but the internet has proven itself a viable option for WAN connectivity, even essential in the case of direct cloud connectivity. Many enterprises are adopting hybrid networks, a combination of managed WAN services and the internet, to address a variety of WAN requirements.