Enterprise Strategy Group Research Finds Organizations Must Adjust to the Reality that the Internet Is the New Corporate Network

Cloud-native Applications and Highly Distributed Compute and Hybrid Work Environments Drive Increasing Complexity in the Network

Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), a leading IT analyst, research, and strategy firm, and a division of TechTarget, Inc., announced new research into network modernization efforts among businesses. The study confirms that broad adoption of public cloud services for applications, workloads, and business-critical data – plus the increasingly distributed nature of IT environments and corporate workforces – are combining to profoundly impact network infrastructure.

The new report, Network Modernization in Highly Distributed Environments, is based on a survey of 338 IT professionals familiar with their organization’s network ecosystem, including data center and campus networks, branch and edge network infrastructure, and wired and wireless network environments. The survey found that organizations need to modernize all areas of the network – data center, campus, WAN, and branch or edge – to keep pace with today’s diverse IT environments and rapidly-changing business conditions.

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More than half of organizations surveyed (54%) consider their organization’s network environment to be more complex than it was two years ago. To cope with distributed application and employee environments driving more network connections, nearly half of organizations (46%) take an “infrastructure-up” approach, applying the network services they already use for their on-premises network infrastructure to their public cloud platforms and infrastructure. This is an effort drive operational efficiency, working with the management solutions they are already comfortable with and adopting new tools for each new cloud environment. The goal here is to ensure end-to-end management.

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Additionally, most organizations recognize the need to leverage network automation to keep up with increasingly complex environments, and 69% of respondents are already using network automation technology in some way. Outside of automation, organizations have high expectations for other technologies that they believe can help in the evolving world of networking:

  • An overwhelming 91% of organizations have an interest in deploying 5G/CBRS technology, and among those, almost all believe that 5G can replace WiFi. However, 5G is still early in its adoption, and ESG expects WiFi and 5G to coexist and complement each other for some time.
  • Implementing cloud-based management technologies (which allow administrators to set up, configure, and manage network resources from any location) is a top priority for data center and campus networks. Sixty-nine percent (69%) of respondents reported a preference for a cloud-based management approach.
  • Two-thirds (66%) of organizations currently use SD-WAN for wide-area connections, with another 29% planning to use SD-WAN in the next 12-24 months. Notably, 73% of current and planned SD-WAN users expressed an interest in consuming the technology as a managed service.

“The highly distributed nature of modern IT environments – characterized by applications in data centers, clouds, and at the edge, plus home or remote work locations – is creating more network complexity and placing more reliance on the network to provide both secure connectivity and positive employee and customer experiences, regardless of location. For networking professionals, that means rapidly adjusting to the new reality of network environments, including keeping an open mind about new technology,” said ESG Senior Analyst Bob Laliberte. “From here on out, it’s going to be all about increasing visibility, driving operational efficiency, and, as always, considering security at every turn.”

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