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VMblog Expert Interview: David Ginsburg Dives Into the Details and Findings of Aryaka's 4th Annual Global State of the WAN Report

interview aryaka david ginsburg 

Aryaka just recently published its fourth annual global State of the WAN report, a global survey exploring the challenges and opportunities presented to IT network managers around their wide area network (WAN).  To find out more about the report and its findings, VMblog spoke with the company's VP of Product and Solutions Marketing, David Ginsburg.

VMblog:  What stuck out the most in this year's survey?  Were there unexpected results that surprised your team?

David Ginsburg:  I wouldn't say that there were any real surprises, since we are so close to where enterprises are going with their WAN investments, but more of a confirmation.   The high-order bits as I call them are performance and complexity, the two interrelated.  IT identifies application performance for both on-premises as well as cloud and SaaS as the biggest challenges, hindered by a network that is complex and difficult to manage.  A recurring theme across the responses is what types of challenges they experience, and what plans are being put in place to correct them.  This includes UCaaS, cloud-delivered applications in general, security, automation, and a desire for managed services.  Those open to considering a managed SD-WAN as well as managed security grew significantly.  We noticed that, as part of a fully managed service, the last mile is a critical component in managing complexity.  Also, though many think of it as an older technology, WAN optimization is still top-of-mind.  One interesting observation relates to the SD-WAN buying cycle, and of the 8% who stated that they have deployed SD-WAN, 25% of these are not happy.  We need to look into this more.

VMblog:  How many people did the study survey and what were their demographics?

Ginsburg:  The survey polled over 1000 CIOs and IT practitioners across 9 different countries.   It covered all verticals and enterprise sizes, and because of the regional diversity, we were better able to drill down on geographic specific findings.  

VMblog:  The survey was conducted just before the massive remote working requirements started due to the pandemic.  Does the vast shift over to remote work materially change some of the findings?

Ginsburg:  Although the survey was conducted in January 2020, just before the current pandemic and remote work mandates, many of the conclusions are even more relevant today as respondents identified remote workers, the cloud, and UCaaS as major challenges and areas for investment.    Since the end of February, as regions implement remote work mandates, we've seen noticeable changes in usage and traffic load behaviors.  These changes place additional burdens on the WAN, and it is even more important now more than ever that the WAN has the flexibility and scalability to handle this in a ‘lights-out' operation.  The initiatives identified in the report directly address this.

VMblog:  What networking needs/challenges are coming to light because of the pandemic remote work?  Where do you see growth as this continues/once we're on the other side?

Ginsburg:  CIOs understand that the WAN is strategic, and if it doesn't support remote workers and doesn't offer the flexibility and scalability required, a pandemic is not the time to learn this.  We've seen strains on the WAN due to the growth in remote workers / VPNs, changing data patterns with branches closed, and the inability of IT to effectively handle day-to-day issues.   Separate from the survey, we've had customers write to us that a managed SD-WAN has been a win for them, with one less worry, permitting them to focus on some of the more strategic issues, and we've gathered some great data on traffic patterns from our orchestration.

VMblog:  What are a few of the biggest networking initiatives enterprises will be undertaking this year?

Ginsburg:  We've not seen any major changes year-to-year, but some percentages have moved around for both IT and networking.  For IT, automation is a perennial favorite and has grown this year.  We see continued strong investment in the cloud and SaaS migration, big data and analytics, and advanced security, with IoT and Blockchain moving up.  On the networking front, WAN optimization, cloud upgrades, and IoT is popular.  We asked about 5G for the first time this year, and there is a great deal of interest in the technology as a potential primary means of connectivity. 

VMblog:  What are some of the major pain points for organizations when it comes to high complexity associated with WAN adoption?

Ginsburg:  IT is perpetually consumed with poor user experience, with remote and mobile users, branches, and cloud/SaaS application origin top focus areas.  In the current environment, we expect remote users to be even more of a time sink.  In the past, ‘Shadow IT' was more of a factor, but many previously unsanctioned applications are now accepted by IT.  Think of Box, Slack, and even Adobe.   The last major issue identified is managing telcos, impacted by some of the sub-par experiences enterprises have had with their managed services.   Looking forward in the report, a managed SD-WAN will address many of these concerns, and the benefit is that, the less IT departments have to manage day-to-day, the more they are available to handle more critical in-house tactical issues. 

VMblog:  What are a few challenges you're seeing around UCaaS?

Ginsburg:  UCaaS, especially in the current distributed work environment, is many times a challenge when deploying globally.   Although most coverage is on the performance of the likes of zoom, 8x8, Webex, and others, they are ultimately impacted by how well the underlying WAN is operating.  This year, respondents identified setup and management of the WAN as the biggest challenge.   It replaces symptoms such as dropped calls or poor voice and video quality, and really speaks to IT having a better and more mature understanding of what needs to be working for collaboration applications to operate effectively.   A much lower percentage this year stated that all was perfect, speaking to higher expectations placed on the WAN.   One additional point on enabling the WAN for UCaaS - we asked about the source of application issues, be it the first, middle, or last-mile.  The observation is that any plans must address all three of these domains.

VMblog:  What observations did you see around security and SD-WAN?

Ginsburg:  There is increasing convergence between SD-WAN and security, and the two are interrelated in any planning.  The two key observations relate to flexibility and vendor choice.  On flexibility, survey respondents desire a choice of security at the edge or branch, and at the cloud.  There is no single approach that will work for every enterprise.  On vendor choice, most enterprises have one and in most cases more than one security vendor with whom they work, and they wish to maintain these relationships.   One interesting result is that IT is more open to multiple security vendors on-premises, but when looking at the cloud, they are more apt to go with a single vendor.  This also relates to the discussion around SASE, first proposed by Gartner, which looks at a cloud-first approach for securing the WAN.

VMblog:  What are a few barriers you're seeing enterprises making the leap to SD-WAN?

Ginsburg:  Those heading down the DIY path hopefully have a good understanding of all the moving parts required to deploy an effective SD-WAN, and the major concern will be if they have the skillsets to bring all of this together.  In contrast, those looking to a telco/MSP managed SD-WAN will need have confidence in the service capabilities of their selected provider as well as the relationship between the provider and one or more SD-WAN technology vendors.  These relationships are very dynamic right now due to the amount of M&A.  The report identified application performance as the major concern, replacing skillsets, complexity, and even cost.  This speaks to the requirement that SD-WAN delivers on its promises, whether DIY or telco/MSP-delivered.   CIOs and their IT teams have very specific goals for any WAN investment and increasing regional or global productivity through application performance is key.

VMblog:  Is there a place where people can download the report and learn more?

Ginsburg:  Please visit us at https://www.aryaka.com/state-of-wan-2020/

VMblog:  Is there anything else that you feel our readers should know about the State of the WAN survey that we haven't touched on?

Ginsburg:  Given the common theme of performance and complexity, and the fact that a well-managed SD-WAN service can address these concerns, we expect more enterprises to evaluate a managed service for the future.  This includes many of the traditional DIY shops and parallels the growth of public cloud services over the past decade, the cloud consumption model where enterprises consume instead of construct.  This OpEx-driven approach will have even greater appeal in an expected CapEx-constrained world going forward.

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Dave Ginsburg is currently VP of Product and Solutions Marketing at Aryaka Networks. His background includes leading marketing and product management organizations spanning networking, the cloud, SaaS, security, and SDN, at companies including Teridion, Pluribus, Extreme, Riverstone Networks, Nortel, and Cisco. He is a published author and thought leader focusing on the convergence of these different technologies in driving business outcomes. Dave holds an electrical engineering degree from RPI.

Published Thursday, April 30, 2020 7:33 AM by David Marshall
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