SD-WAN Adoption on the Rise in Asia Pacific But How Well Do You Understand It?

James Forbes-May, VP, Asia-Pacific, Barracuda Networks

James Forbes-May, VP, Asia-Pacific, Barracuda Networks

Businesses in Asia Pacific (APAC) are significantly increasing their investment in cloud-friendly networking technologies, according to the findings of a study of 300 APAC IT and networking professionals released by Barracuda Networks, the leader in cloud-enabled security and data protection solutions.

Key findings:

• 97 percent of APAC organisations are either using software defined wide area networking (SD-WAN), a technology that helps users access the cloud quickly and securely, or are considering it

• The biggest driver for implementing SD-WAN is to secure the delivery of data across the WAN/internet

• 100 percent of APAC organisations feel that their SD-WAN solution has seen achievements since deployment

• In terms of SD-WAN knowledge, APACis similar to the global averagewithfour in ten (41 percent) indicating that they fully understand SD-WAN

• APAC thinks SD-WAN has been overhyped, with over half (51 percent) of organisations thinking it is a buzzword and won’t revolutionise networking, higher than the US (42 percent) but lower than EMEA (53 percent)

• The number one issue for almost half (46 percent) who have deployed SD-WAN was cloud data centre deployment difficulties

• Five in ten (51 percent) think SD-WAN will replace MPLS

• More than two thirds (69 percent) believe there’s currently insufficient SD-WAN training in their organisation

Cyber attack defence is APAC organisations’ biggest priority

Perhaps unsurprising for a region where the financial and reputational cost of a data breach has never been higher, reducing the risk of cyber attacks is the main focus for organisations over the next 12 months, with  two thirds (63 percent) choosing it as one of their primary focuses. This surpasses projects leveraging artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), automation and the Internet of Things (IoT), proving that businesses realise the importance of getting security right before embarking on more innovation-led development.

Security also came out on top as the biggest challenge when using cloud applications, with more than three quarters (76 percent) choosing protection against cyber threats as their number one issue. However, the biggest wide area network (WAN) challenge wasmanaging the complex network, edging out the other options, with 54 percent voting it as their top issue.

APAC overwhelmingly turns to SD-WAN to reach the cloud securely and quickly

The findings suggest that APAC organisations are taking advantage of SD-WAN to solve these latency and security issues across their cloud and WAN environments. One in three (32 percent) have already deployed SD-WAN, with a further 65 percent either deploying or considering deploying it in the future, leaving just 3 percent with no SD-WAN plans at all.

The biggest motivation for SD-WAN deployment is securing the delivery of data across the WAN/internet (chosen by 87 percent), closely followed by protecting locations and site-to-site connections from malware and other threats (chosen by 84 percent).

Increased network security(chosen by 67 percent) was identified as the number one benefitof SD-WAN. Much of the benefit is also financial: respondents estimated they could save an average of $1.25 million (USD) on MPLS and networking costs in one year using SD-WAN. Strikingly, all respondents (100 percent) claim that achievements have been noted since deploying SD-WAN.

SD-WAN education in APAC

Despite its success, it looks like more needs to be done in terms SD-WAN education in the APAC region. Only 41 percent of the APAC respondents felt that they totally understood SD-WAN, falling behind the US (57 percent). 46 percent of the APAC respondents also indicated cloud data centre deployment difficulties as the main issue following its deployment. For those who haven’t yet deployed the technology, high costs of new implementations (38 percent), a lack of internal skill (38 percent) and additional complexity (38 percent) are cited by about four in ten as their biggest barrier, with slightly more than one fifth (21 percent) indicating that they do not know enough about SD-WAN.

The future looks bright in APAC

Overall, the APAC region is optimistic about SD-WAN: Five in ten (51 percent) think it will replace MPLS as the leading solution, whilst almost eight in ten (78 percent) believe their WAN will become outdated if they do not embrace SD-WAN, meaning they will fall behind competitors.

While many respondents acknowledged that there is a lack of education and skills around SD-WAN, they also suggested that the answer lies in training. Almost seven in ten (69 percent) believe there’s currently not enough SD-WAN training in their organisation.

What does this all mean?

Well, for starters, this research clearly shows that organisations in APAC wake up to the reality of cyber threats, with many taking the plunge into SD-WAN as a result.

However we have some way to go in terms of SD-WAN education. IT teams across the region seem to be crying out for more SD-WAN training. This is a start for the industry and we need to work together to better educate organisations around SD-WAN.

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