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Research: Most Companies Rely on MSSPs, MSPs to Manage SD-WANs

More than three-fourths of companies in a new study rely on managed security service providers (MSSPs) and managed service providers (MSPs) to manage or co-manage their software defined wide area networks (SD-WAN).

The research, underwritten by SD-WAN and cloud platform provider Masergy, is intended to gauge the rate at which companies are adopting SD-WAN technology and moving to a mix of both public and private (hybrid) access. Some 300 IT decision makers based in the U.S. across 20 industries were surveyed for the report, entitled 2021 State of SD-WAN Study. Reliability, security and hybrid access matter most to them in choosing an SD-WAN provider.

Of the study's respondents, nearly half currently using a co-managed service intend to offload more of their IT work to their partners. More than 75 percent of buyers said that their networks have become increasingly complex over time and they lack the internal capabilities to effectively manage them.

“As companies adopt SD-WAN, they will increasingly rely on managed service partners to help them address a wider scope of technologies all at once and expand their capabilities, gradually offloading more administrative burdens,” the Dallas, Texas-based Masergy said in the report. “In selecting their partners, IT leaders have security and solution reliability at the top of their criteria list but they should also consider the flexibility of their SD-WAN solutions, particularly as it relates to management and network access.”

Based on the study’s data, by 2026 SD-WAN adoption is expected to rise to 92 percent of companies and 64 percent of sites. Most businesses will take on SD-WAN technology for efficiency (38%), cost savings (38%) and agility (34%).

Additional key findings from the survey include:

  • 77% of companies use a fully managed or co-managed SD-WAN solution. 23% use a do-it-yourself solution.
  • Solution reliability (~50%) and security (~60%) are top priorities for selecting an SD-WAN provider.
  • Most buyers are now familiar with secure access service edge (SASE), but 50%+ don’t have a good understanding of its impact and business implications.
  • Roughly 58% expect to use a hybrid access model over the next five years.
  • Both private-only access users (63%) and public-only access users (55%) are considering a shift to hybrid access.
  • Among those using a public-only or internet-only approach to SD-WAN, 50% said they would incorporate more private access because performance is insufficient for their critical applications.
  • Private connectivity will continue to play a prominent role in backing up SD-WAN architectures.

“This study affirms that IT leaders understand the value of SD-WAN connectivity and are leaning into hybrid access models that strike the right balance between price and performance for a ROI ‘sweet spot’,” said Terry Traina, Masergy’s chief technology officer. “The survey confirms what everyone is noticing anecdotally. There’s still a lot of confusion about SASE,” said Traina.

D. Howard Kass

D. Howard Kass is a contributing editor to MSSP Alert. He brings a career in journalism and market research to the role. He has served as CRN News Editor, Dataquest Channel Analyst, and West Coast Senior Contributing Editor at Channelnomics. As the CEO of The Viewpoint Group, he led groundbreaking market research.