Demand for SD-WAN is on the rise again, but the perimeter is shifting from branch offices.

Jeffrey Schwartz

August 31, 2020

4 Min Read

Long after the risk of catching COVID-19 dissipates, many organizations plan to keep their employees working from home. The impact of this year’s unexpected pandemic will consequently affect the network technologies that they require.

Network technologies that many customers were once ambivalent about are now in high demand. And increasingly, it appears for many, interest in these technologies is not just for the short term.

As working from home becomes permanent among many organizations, the shift is changing their network priorities. A discussion during next week’s Channel Partners Virtual will explore new network requirements resulting from COVID-19. During the session: “Three Networking Trends in the Age of COVID,” Anish Patel will share his observations.

Patel, VP of emerging technologies at master agent TBI, will discuss how COVID-19 has changed organizations’ network priorities. Phil Harvey, editor-in-chief of  Light Reading, a Channel Partners sister site, will moderate the discussion.

“When the pandemic ends, a lot of people are probably not coming back to the office,” Patel told Channel Partners.

TBI’s Anish Patel is one of dozens of industry speakers who will “take the stage” at Channel Partners Virtual. Our online trade show is Sept. 8-10. Don’t miss out on this one-of-a-kind event. Register now!


TBI’s Anish Patel

The three network technologies that Harvey and Patel will focus on are: SD-WAN, wireless connectivity and security.


When the pandemic began, SD-WAN was the last thing customers were thinking about, Patel explained. After all, network providers have marketed SD-WAN to optimize connections to branch offices. But in the months that followed, Patel said it became apparent that SD-WAN was also a good choice for employees working from home.

“SD-WAN edge has shifted from the branch office, corporate environment to the home,” he said. “If I’m a call center employee, or an executive, I need reliable, stable bandwidth if I’m working at home. Especially if my wife and kids are also at home chewing up my bandwidth, or I have a flappy DSL connection. SD-WAN helps with a lot of that user experience improving that user experience.”

Wireless Connectivity

Despite hype over 5G services, Patel will make the case for existing advanced LTE services. Likewise, there aren’t enough Wi-Fi 6 endpoints to warrant recommending it, he will argue.

“5G is great and Wi-Fi 6 is great; they are the bleeding edge of what’s available right now,” he said. “But a lot of our customers are using what’s on the truck today. They’re using a combination of DSL, broadband, fixed wireless satellite and LTE to get the bandwidth necessary to do their jobs at home.”

Among the options Patel will discuss is bonding with various solutions that can aggregate LTE connections from multiple carriers.


COVID-19 has created the largest influx of people working from home to date. Many of them were never candidates to work outside of the office. The volume of people suddenly working from home stretched the limits of companies’ VPNs, according to Patel.

“With everyone working from home, you have hundreds or thousands of endpoints, compared with 10 or 50 sites,” Patel said.

And, he added, those connections become vulnerable when …

… not used in a properly secure home network environment.

“If I’m a hacker, and I compromised your home network, I can use the VPN to get into corporate network. It can create a real security nightmare,” said Patel.

Further, many organizations might not have VPNs designed to scale.

“VPNs were designed for probably 20% of the population,” he said. “And now 100% are working from home, which taxes the VPN infrastructure. These concentrators are not designed to handle that bump in load, and you have to buy more licenses.”

Not Temporary

These network trends may have shifted with COVID-19, but the pandemic accelerated a broader trend that was already emerging: a workforce that is more distributed.

A recent survey of company leaders by Gartner found that 82% plan to keep employees working from home sometimes. The survey also found that almost half (47%) intend to let employees work at home full-time.

Early into the pandemic, it became evident that there was no clear timeline for many workers’ to return to offices. Numerous companies have told employees that they won’t return to the office until next summer. Many are weighing scenarios where employees split their time between working from home and in the office. Some companies have already reassessed their need to have offices.

For example, late last month, the head of JP Morgan Chase’s investment banking group last week told CNBC it will shutter many of its offices. The bank might also shutter its backup trading floors outside of New York City and London, the executive said.

Another example is Nationwide Insurance, which announced it would eliminate its branch offices and maintain four dispersed campus sites. Employees in the branch offices that are closing will be working from home.

Patel said he will describe various solutions that are helping partners address these scenarios. The session is scheduled for Sept. 8 at 3 p.m. ET.

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About the Author(s)

Jeffrey Schwartz

Jeffrey Schwartz has covered the IT industry for nearly three decades, most recently as editor-in-chief of Redmond magazine and executive editor of Redmond Channel Partner. Prior to that, he held various editing and writing roles at CommunicationsWeek, InternetWeek and VARBusiness (now CRN) magazines, among other publications.

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