Aryaka Report Reveals Growing Cloud Complexity

City With Network

By: R. Scott Raynovich

Cloud networking provider Aryaka recently released its fifth annual Global State of the WAN report, which contains some unique insights into trends in how IT and network managers are dealing with the modern challenges of networking cloud applications.

Aryaka, a provider of software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN) services, surveyed 1,350 companies, most of which had between 100 and 10,000 employees, to gain insights for the report.

The report covers a wide variety of trends, including how recent developments such as an increasingly virtual workforce and accelerated digital transformation projects are driving demand for cloud-based virtual networking technologies. Some key developments identified by the report include an increased virtual workforce, shifting budget needs, and the need for better management of complex application environments.

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"As 2020 brought with it the greatest workforce migration in human history due to the pandemic, corporations are leaning towards hybrid workplaces and collaborative experiences," writes Shashi Kiran, chief marketing officer of Aryaka, in his introduction to the report. "CIOs will be challenged to deliver flexibility and manage rapid changes gracefully."

Application Complexity Grows

One of the top trends identified by respondents, predominantly technology leaders, was the challenge of managing application sprawl. In the last year, the number of enterprises with over 500 known applications has grown by almost 50%, from 32% to 47% of respondents, according to the survey.

"With this growth comes increased complexity, which is still the #1 issue for IT on par with last year at 37%, followed by slow application access (33%) and performance (32%)," says the report.

Another key trend, which has consumed many IT and network managers for the past year, is the shift to an increasingly remote workforce -- and the need for networking capabilities to support virtual collaboration applications.

More than 80% of the companies surveyed said they expect over a quarter of their workers to remain remote after the pandemic ends, and over two-thirds desire flexibility between on-premises and remote deployments. Of those surveyed, 63% said they consider the ability to move resources between on-premise and remote to be very important.

The report concludes that unified communications as-as-service (UCaaS) experienced strong uptake due to the pandemic. Zoom experienced major growth, with 36% of end users identifying its use, up from 25% in the previous survey, with this market share coming at the expense of other collaboration platforms. Other up-and-coming applications include Microsoft Teams, SAP/HANA, and Slack.

Spending Priorities Shift

The shift to remote work is expected to drive more SD-WAN spending, according to Aryaka, which is, of course, an SD-WAN provider. Forty-three percent of respondents said they will be looking at SD-WAN investment as a way to boost application performance across locations, making application performance this year's top driver for WAN transformation, according to the survey. Some of the other drivers of SD-WAN adoption include MPLS augmentation (39%) and contract expiration (27%).

Over half (59%) of the survey respondents stated that they expect 25%-50% of their workers to remain remote at the end of 2021. To support this, 63% consider the ability to quickly move resources between on-premise and remote to be very important.

The survey confirms the continued migration away from more expensive, legacy networking technologies such as MPLS. More than 50% of companies surveyed plan to terminate some or all MPLS contracts. Drivers for WAN investment include application performance at #1 with 43%, but also MPLS augmentation (39%) and contract expiration (27%).

Budget plans have shifted somewhat in response to the pandemic. Some of the growing priorities include support for the hybrid workplace, identified as a priority by 44% of respondents; an increased focus on digital transformation (53% of respondents); remote worker enablement (38% of respondents); and remote worker security (36%).

Overall, the report says that IT reported a slight slowdown in investment, with 21% planning a WAN refresh, compared to 15% in 2019 and 26% in 2020.

In recent coverage of the report, Dave Ginsburg, Aryaka's VP for product and solutions marketing, told Fierce Telecom that some 2021 budgets may be tighter due to unexpected 2020 spending on added cloud services and remote work solutions. Ginsburg said the security solutions that support remote work have performed well, which gives companies the confidence to continue to leverage a remote workforce.

SD-WAN and Security

The Aryaka report also identified some key trends that Futuriom has covered in the past year, including the rise in interest in Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) solutions.

SASE, the acronym coined by analyst firm Gartner, was an area of major interest for many respondents in the Aryaka survey. Twenty-nine percent of respondents said they are already deploying SASE, and 56% plan to do so in the next 12-24 months.

Ginsburg told Fierce that companies are considering SD-WAN and SASE together when they make investment decisions and that consideration is often split between networking and security groups. "They’re being fused more and more," said Ginsburg.

The report reflects the desire from end users to drive more integration among networks and security. More than half of the respondents said they prefer a solution that includes both their WAN vendor and security specialists (51%), vs. 25% looking to leverage a single vendor for both. Only 12% plan to rely on their security vendor to provide all WAN components.

If you add SASE investment to WAN, at total of the 34% of respondents expect to make investments targeted at the combined SD-WAN/SASE space. In addition, another area experiencing continued growth is LTE/5G at 31% vs 9% in 2019 and 24% in 2020. VPNs are also up, at 31% vs. 18% in 2019 and 27% in 2020.