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In a WFH world, what’s the deal with SD-WAN?
by Paul Davenport Paul Davenport on

Prior to the global pandemic, SD-WAN was among the leading digital transformation initiatives in the enterprise space, as IT teams deployed this tech to help to connect their increasingly distributed remote office footprint.

Months into the global quarantine, however, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the pre-COVID focus on the remote office has shifted markedly to support work-from-home (WFH), which conventional SD-WAN deployments aren’t optimized for. But it’s a bit of a mixed bag across the IT landscape when it comes to where SD-WAN falls on enterprise IT wishlists, especially as some teams start transitioning back to offices in fits and starts as the pandemic continues to evolve.

A recent survey from the Dell’Oro Group, a telecommunications, networks, and data center industries think tank, found that investments into SD-WAN will continue their massive growth trajectory well into the next decade, with sales of SD-WAN products forecast to exceed $324 billion in the next four years alone.

This aligns pretty closely with a recent study conducted just at the start of the pandemic back in April by NetworkWorld, which found that attitudes toward SD-WAN remained high among IT decision makers despite changing world events: 58 percent of respondents said SD-WAN can improve bandwidth efficiency across their networks, while 55 percent indicated they expect new SD-WAN deployments will expand connectivity options. The survey also found that the increased use of containers and cloud-based applications that need access from the edge will help promote the use of SD-WAN technologies.

But just as forecasts around when offices will fully reopen aren’t unanimous, the same rings true for data around SD-WAN.

A new survey of UK business leaders from Accelerate that polled IT leaders back in May found that teams are far less rosy on their expected ROI from SD-WAN deployments as in-office work increasingly takes a back seat. For the majority of businesses polled for the report, key challenges include managing remote worker performance and support, while almost half reported problems with bandwidth, infrastructure capacity, and an increased number of dispersed and unmanaged devices accessing corporate resources.

So what can IT teams make of all the mixed messages?

The moral of the story is that no matter what technologies teams are using to help manage their increasingly complex networks, they need to ensure they’re leveraging solutions that put the end user first. Whether those are tools designed to support the remote office or technologies geared toward WFH, as long as teams have visibility into how end users are experiencing the network at the end of the day, they can prioritize their tech deployments accordingly to optimize performance.

This means that, first and foremost, teams need to be deploying monitoring solutions that can see into all network environments – from last-mile ISP connections for at-home workers to the LAN supporting a remote office.

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Filed Under: industry insights

Tags: network management, network performance monitoring, remote worker, remote workforce, remote work, work from home, wfh, cloud computing, enterprise IT, enterprise WAN, sd wan

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