Back in September of 2017, we published a blog that posed the question, “Is SD-WAN ready for prime time?”. The blog encouraged enterprises to ask themselves four fundamental questions prior to purchasing SD-WAN technology:

  • How secure is it?
  • Which security components are included?
  • Will traffic optimization impact performance
  • What is the true cost?

While it is relatively simple to figure out which security components are included and to understand the impact of traffic optimization, determining the security efficacy of a product and its true cost of ownership is much more complex. This is where hands-on testing, whether it is conducted in house or by a third party, can dramatically impact enterprise purchasing decisions.

In preparation for our first group test of SD-WAN, we’ve reached out to US enterprises to better understand the adoption rate of SD-WAN, as well as the perceived benefits of deploying the technology. See the NSS Labs Software-Defined Wide Area Networking Test Methodology v1.0 here.

Enterprise Adoption of SD-WAN

A whopping 82.2% of our survey respondents indicated that their organization has already adopted SD-WAN, with another 5.6% indicating that they will be acquiring an SD-WAN product in the next 12 months. Of the enterprises currently deploying SD-WAN, 52.9% plan on expanding their use of the technology. These are significant numbers.

Only a fraction of our respondents (12.2%) indicated that their organization had no SD-WAN products deployed. When asked why their organizations had not adopted the technology, “cost” and “unproven technology” were the most commonly selected options.

Benefits of SD-WAN

Perceived benefits of SD-WAN pie chart Clearly, there are many benefits to be had from adopting SD-WAN: reduced cost compared to installing dedicated Telco circuits; simplified link management between sites; and Quality of Service (QoS) features based on application and service requirements, to name just a few.

Surprisingly, despite a lack of publicly available test results to validate the claims of SD-WAN vendors, survey respondents most commonly selected security (46%) as the primary benefit of SD-WAN technology. What do you think? Do you think the primary benefit of SD-WAN is the security it affords across an enterprise’s WAN links, or do you believe it is other features, such as WAN control and optimization?

SD-WAN’s Outlook for 2018

2017 was an interesting year in the world of SD-WAN. Not only did the technology thrive, but industry giants such as Cisco and VMware made grand entrances into the market through the acquisition of Viptela and VeloCloud, respectively. Expect more of the same in 2018 as security vendors look to add SD-WAN capabilities to their current edge offerings.

NSS Labs has released a series of Intelligence Briefs that focus on security controls in the US enterprise, one of which is focused on SD-WAN products.