The WANs and the Whys of 2020 [Blog]

Director of Product Richard Beeston considers what the near-future holds for businesses looking to embrace SD-WAN

In their 2020 Global Networking Report, Cisco’s CTO for Enterprise Networking predicts:

“By 2025, leading-edge networking teams will have intent-based networks operating across domains – campus, branch, WAN, data centre, cloud, service provider, and security. Their networks will be able to comprehend business and application requirements and translate them to network and security policies. Agility will be dramatically improved through the network’s intelligent automation, and networks will operate with a powerful feedback loop that provides continuous monitoring, assurance, and optimisation.”

The Cisco 2020 Global Networking Trends Report explores how advanced networking technologies such as automation and advanced analytics are dramatically changing networking models and operations to facilitate dynamic business needs. It also shares findings of the current and future state of networking readiness according to its latest global survey of more than 2,000 IT leaders and strategists. In short, the survey’s key findings suggest that the need for a new kind of network has been shaped by factors such as globalisation, digital transformation, business automation and resilience, and sustainability.

Software-defined WAN

The sheer scale, complexity and dynamic nature of these demands are now exceeding the capacity of human operators alone and if present trends are anything to go by, backed by the research given in Cisco’s report, we can expect cloud to dominate 2020 as businesses to continue to explore new ways of lowering costs and becoming more agile.

The market for SD-WAN in particular remains hot as many organisations start deploying the technology to solve WAN bandwidth limitations, provide reliability/resiliency and improve quality of user experience for cloud-based applications. What’s more, dozens of suppliers are rapidly innovating and maturing their SD-WAN products with innovations in cloud, support for leading SaaS applications, security, and management/automation platforms.

So it certainly seems as though Cisco’s prediction will be proven correct long before 2025. As the workplace becomes more virtual than physical, businesses are now hiring talent wherever it is, and these dispersed employees are connecting to increasing numbers of cloud services. This dispersal of connectivity, and the growth of multi-cloud networking will force many businesses to re-tool their networks in favour of SD-WAN technology.

Indeed, Cisco’s research shows that almost 95% of the enterprises they surveyed expect to be using SD-WAN within 24 months1. Other key findings from the trend report support this as global IT leaders admit that top priority is to maximise the business value of IT and more closely align to business needs with almost 40 percent of those leaders highlighting IT’s business value as their number one priority – higher than simplifying operations, optimising employee productivity and minimising security events.


Astonishingly, the one prediction none of us could have made is just how closely we’d be aligning IT to business need in the first part of 2020. For more than 20 years, the telecommunications industry has said that the day would come when mobility, collaboration, virtual desktops, and more, would change how, when, and where business is conducted. Until now, it would have been unimaginable to think that one major global event would have the potential to be the main driver for the next decade of communications modernisation.

Yet we’re already seeing organisations scrambling to replace the likes of rigid PBX infrastructures in order to enable cloud-based voice, UC and networking solutions to limit major interruptions to business as the current and ever-changing global landscape continues to unfold. Thousands of businesses have also taken unprecedented measures to allow their workforce to work from home. And this isn’t the purely altruistic move it might have been this time last year, businesses are suddenly now responsible for risks associated with employees who might become patients who might also have come into contact with customers, suppliers, stakeholders etc. – the disaster recovery element is very, very real.

In many ways, business may never be the same, and that agility that was predicted to have happened by 2025 is already well underway – albeit in the most unusual of circumstances. Both the opportunity and need to embrace the technology that enables agility is greater than ever.

The complete Cisco Global Networking Trends Report

The complete Cisco 2020 Global Networking Trends Report is available to download below. It is Cisco’s inaugural report on the state of the evolution of enterprise networking. It brings together research from across Cisco, including guidance from their leaders, fellows, and distinguished engineers.

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