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Security capabilities of SD-WAN encouraging rapid adoption

18 Apr 18

Article by Ovum chief analyst Mike Sapien

Beyond basic network connectivity and network-centric features such as WAN optimisation, security has been one of the promised next-wave roadmap features surrounding managed SD-WAN services.

In early customer deployments, network connectivity was the spotlight feature, along with managing the mix of network types and diversity of providers. Security was a concern early on, but most customers realise they can retain their existing security infrastructure and environment with little change.

They can also enhance their security measures with the many security options available through managed SD-WAN. Given SD-WAN’s use of multiple services, increasing use of internet services, and the multicloud environment, customers have more interest in making sure their security posture is maintained or fortified.

Ovum has observed that as customers become more comfortable with the network features and functions, security is garnering more attention.

Customers also have realised how an SD-WAN presents new security options with service chaining, but in the context of keeping their existing security infrastructure in place. Meanwhile, SD-WAN vendors and providers have started to develop more security options for managed SD-WAN services on their own and with third-party security vendors.

Some vendors have developed foundational security features, including stateful firewalls or web filtering, to address customer requirements for direct branch-to-cloud connectivity. These vendors also collaborated with existing security vendors (Check Point, Fortinet, Palo Alto Networks, and Zscaler) to develop integrated and/or overlay options that could easily be service chained for additional security.

Customers now find that managed SD-WAN service security options provide strong foundational security options, but also enable more granular levels and layers of security that can be aligned on a per-application or traffic-type basis.

Ovum has witnessed many SD-WAN vendors offering foundational security options versus listing them as roadmap items. Customers can easily service chain more robust security features by location, session, user, and application.

This capability is just one example of the improved security that can be provided with advanced SD-WAN implementations. Managing security can be centralised across all the elements customers desire, including the necessary tasks of updating and installing security patches. Security needs to be one of the critical features of any new managed ICT service, but in this case, SD-WAN technology has provided more flexible options than the legacy technology that it replaces.

Summary

During 2016, most enterprise customers focused on SD-WAN evaluation through the lens of network functionality, with security in the background. In 2017 and going into 2018, customers’ concerns about security have turned to using managed SD-WAN to fortify their security posture.

Managed SD-WAN providers and MSSPs are collectively offering many security alternatives for SD-WAN services. With the maturation of SD-WAN technology, security options available, and multiple deployments, managed security services are becoming integrated features of managed SD-WAN services with more robust features yet simple implementations.