In December, Versa sponsored an independent survey conducted by Dimensional Research of 308 network professionals across five continents at organizations with 1,000-plus employees. The goal of the research was to capture how companies manage and secure their networks across branch locations. The research also investigated the expected benefits and challenges of a software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN).
What the research revealed was that companies are struggling to manage and secure the WAN, especially at branch locations. Nearly all participants stated that maintaining security policies, network devices, and complexity due to cloud and mobile applications are the most difficult aspects of managing the WAN.
Specifically, they found growing complexity is the top challenge for managing branch networks and security; more than one-third of companies fail to have proper security measures at branch locations (see figure 1). I found this number surprisingly high, considering most of us have home networks with built-in security. Less than one-quarter of companies have an active project to address challenges; 80 percent of respondents prefer an integrated SD-WAN and security solution.
Figure 1: Source: Dimensional Research
The report also uncovered the fact that networking professionals are struggling to maintain security policies, manage network devices, and control sensitive information. And these issues compounded by the number of physical network and security devices respondents have to manage in a typical branch. Two-thirds of organizations are managing more than six physical network and security devices at each branch (see figure 2).
Figure 2: Source: Dimensional Data
What’s more, they’re having a hard time adequately managing and securing their WANs – especially at branch offices. For example, 97 percent of respondents said they face multiple challenges in managing their WAN.
And the three most common challenges involve branch offices. Specifically, 52 percent said their biggest challenge was managing network and security devices at branch locations; 50 percent said that the biggest challenge was mitigating information security risks at branch locations; 42 percent said the biggest challenge was deploying new network and security solutions at branch locations.
When it comes to the WAN, networking professionals indicated that they struggle primarily with maintaining security policies, managing network devices, and controlling sensitive information.
This is compounded by the number of physical network and security devices respondents have to manage in a typical branch. To be specific, 44 percent of respondents said they manage more than 10 devices, while 66 percent said they have to manage more than six devices. It gets even more complex when considering 88 percent of respondents confirmed that in a given remote branch they are working with devices from multiple vendors.
Even when factoring in the need to manage multiple devices from multiple vendors, 76 percent said they are deferring actions necessary to simplify WAN management.
Additionally, more than one-third of organizations are failing to institute proper security measures – such as secure web gateways, intrusion protection and even basic firewalls at branch locations. And part of the reason given for this is the growing complexity caused by cloud applications and mobile devices (see figure 3).
Figure 3: Source: Dimensional Data
Interestingly, 80 percent of networking professionals said they would prefer an integrated SD-WAN and security solution.
In summary, the branch network and WAN remain a challenge for most enterprise IT teams. But SD-WAN and the integration of security into an SD-WAN deployment or managed service can help to address some of the fundamental WAN and branch security challenges that network and IT teams are facing today.