Cloud Application Access Critical for Next Generation SD-WANs

30 Jan 2020

Next generations networks must deliver digital transformation services

Cato Networks just released a comprehensive survey of the impact of WAN and SD-WAN networking on digital transformation. Digital transformation changes the compute and applications environment by moving the services to the cloud and supporting a wider range of users in the organization. The second key issue is time. Often digital transformation takes advantage of the new real-time capabilities in compute and IA, requiring rapid and available networking. The challenge with digital transformation is twofold; first, it impacts the organization in ways that have not happened before, including integrating real-time applications in locations where these capabilities were not required before and the integration to cloud providers through IP based services.

A new critical factor in network use is the explosion of real-time UC communications that are IP-based and use the new networks. Real-time cloud UCaaS services, whether they are telephony, video, teams, or collaboration, require network access to the real-time cloud services to support. As organizations consider moving to these services, often as part of an overall digital transformation process, understanding how they will integrate with both the network and security services is critical. A key advantage of SASE (Secure Access Service Edge) services is to move the responsibility for this integration to a cloud service provider. SD-WAN companies like Cato Networks are delivering a complete network/security solution that should be considered as organizations plan for transformation.

In the survey, 74% of SD-WAN-implementing respondents expressed having significantly less confidence in their networks post digital transformation. Delivering cloud connectivity was an issue identified by 69% of the respondents. Clearly, while SD-WANs address some key network issues, cloud connectivity is still a major challenge for many implementations.

A subsequent question indicated that 62% of respondents with an SASE-based SD-WAN solution were more confident about their ability to deliver digital transition. This divide seems to indicate a key aspect of emerging SD-Wan solutions. SD-WANs tend to fall into two categories: equipment used to build an internally built and operated SD-WAN, and a cloud-based solution that manages the data in the network as part of the service. While enterprise-implemented SD-WANs tend to follow more traditional MPLS architectures and internal data center support, a true cloud SD-WAN can easily provide “direct” IP access to key compute resources. This is because the cloud SD-WAN vendor can place elements close to major computer centers for key applications and cloud players (Amazon, Microsoft, Google, etc.).

Another area the survey identified was overall satisfaction with choosing a SASE model for networking. Survey respondents are almost three times more confident in their network when implementing a full SASE that includes both security and mobility as part of the overall SD-WAN solution. According to Gartner, SASE combines network security functions (such as SWG, CASB, FWaaS and ZTNA), with WAN capabilities (i.e., SD-WAN) to support the dynamic secure access needs of organizations. This includes mobility support as the range of employee’s access services increases.

After looking through the survey, I came away realizing that digital transformation really is a new paradigm for all of IT. While past corporate IT architectures had limited scope and coverage that was typically limited to small internal networks, digital transformation impacts every corner of the organizations and takes advantage of all of the newest technologies, from cloud compute, mobile devices/BYOD, AI/Machine Learning, and more. The result is that network designed for the last epoch of compute architectures is being strained by the emerging solutions driving digital transformation.

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