When organizations began to fully embrace both the work-from-anywhere (WFA) user model and multi-cloud strategies, IT leadership quickly realized that traditional networks lack the flexibility needed to support modern digital transformation initiatives. 

Legacy network shortcomings led to the rapid growth of software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN). This next-generation technology enables a more agile network and provides high-performance access to cloud applications for users on-premises and off-premises. It eliminates the need for backhauling—routing remote traffic through the data center before accessing the internet—enabling direct access to critical cloud services. The benefits are many and include:

Better application performance: SD-WAN can prioritize business-critical traffic and real-time services like Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), steering it over the most efficient route and incorporating advanced WAN remediation. Having several options for moving traffic helps reduce packet loss and latency from heavy traffic. 

Increased agility: Organizations can easily scale to whatever sites and traffic levels they experience, eliminating the need to plan network upgrades months or years in advance.

Cost savings and ROI: SD-WAN routes traffic efficiently over multiple channels—including existing MPLS circuits and the public internet via LTE, broadband, and 5G. This maximizes the usage of available WAN capacity and eliminates the need for new MPLS bandwidth, cutting costs. It also optimizes operations and reduces network outages, which frees up IT resources so they can work on other things.

Common SD-WAN misconceptions
Like all technologies, SD-WAN has evolved since it was introduced several years ago. Though it has been around for some time, many in the industry have not embraced it and don’t fully appreciate its capabilities because of some misconceptions. Below are four common myths about SD-WAN:

SD-WAN causes latency: This is not true. Secure SD-WAN eliminates the need to backhaul traffic for security checks because it can do this closer to the remote location where the traffic originates. This reduces latency.  

SD-WAN = uCPE + SSE: Universal customer premises equipment (uCPE) that is stitched together with different virtual machines and security service edge (SSE) components that come from different vendors creates complexity. An integrated solution like SD-WAN from a single vendor is much more efficient. They are not equally effective solutions.

Networking and security solutions should be procured separately: Secure SD-WAN isn’t only about networking. A vendor with strong capabilities and deep experience in both networking and security is going to provide IT organizations with better solutions. 

SASE will replace SD-WAN: This won’t happen because SD-WAN is a foundational element of SASE, a comprehensive solution that securely connects the hybrid workforce. The right SD-WAN needs to be in place for a smooth, seamless transition to SASE that meets the organization’s needs.

The future of SD-WAN
With the rise of distributed applications and the continued increase in network traffic, SD-WAN will continue to grow in importance as a critical part of corporate network infrastructure. In fact, it’s becoming foundational to the distributed, hybrid network because it gives IT teams the visibility to anticipate network issues, automate remediation, enforce consistent security policies, and centrally control access to applications and resources. 

It is also a critical step on the journey to SD-Branch, software-defined secure networking for branch environments, and SASE. Because it plays such an important role in these technologies, SD-WAN needs to be fully autonomous to provide scalable and resilient architecture.

Additionally, the role of AI and automation will continue to grow, especially within Secure SD-WAN solutions that leverage these tools to detect, contain, and respond to emerging threats. Finally, ensuring optimal user experience should be top of mind for CIOs because if users run into challenges accessing resources they need to work, they may find workarounds that will expose the network to threats. 

Embrace SD-WAN for more nimble infrastructure
SD-WAN is an excellent network security solution that has not been fully embraced by all because of some lingering misconceptions. It’s past time for IT leadership to bust the myths and move forward. The future demands that organizations have more agile and secure networks and provide their WFA users with seamless access to data and applications on the cloud.

Fortinet’s Secure SD-WAN solution provides Secure SD-WAN on-premises and in the cloud while offering FortiGuard AI-Powered Security Services to protect sensitive traffic. 


It’s widely recognized that introducing IT teams to the latest technology, business, and security advancements is essential for maximum performance and productivity. What’s not often discussed, however, are the mistakes IT leaders make when establishing and supervising training programs, particularly when training is viewed as little more than an obligatory task.

“Treating training as a checkbox exercise sends the message to your team that you don’t really care all that much about the content they’re learning — and that mindset is contagious,” warns Steve Ryan, a manager at BARR Advisory, a cloud-based security and compliance solutions provider.

Is your organization giving its teams the training they need to keep pace with the latest industry developments? To find the answer, here’s a quick checklist of the seven most common training mistakes you need to steer clear of when upskilling your IT teams.

1. Emphasizing the wrong goals

A big mistake many IT leaders make is relying on a training structure that prioritizes career advancement over skill development.

“This creates a culture of ‘ladder-climbing’ rather than a focus on continuous training, learning, and improvement,” says Nicolás Ávila, CTO for North America at software development firm Globant.

To keep teams engaged and reaching toward goals, Ávila suggests individualizing skill-building while periodically creating skill-focused missions. Experimentation broadens expertise, particularly in a rapidly evolving field like technology where being able to learn many new skills is key to both career and enterprise success, he says. “Creating a culture of development also leads to a happier and more engaged workforce, which can minimize attrition.”

Don’t fear attrition — fear stagnation, Ávila advises. “If you have the right team some members will leave, but if you have the wrong team they might all stay and slowly damage your organization beyond repair.”

2. Neglecting soft skills

Focusing solely on technical skills and ignoring other essential professional abilities, such as business acumen, communication management, and leadership, is a serious mistake, says Sharon Mandell, CIO at Juniper Networks. “Some people call them ‘soft skills,’ but I think these should be thought of as core skills,” she states.

If team members are unable to communicate with and influence both colleagues and stakeholders, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to produce solutions that work for everyone, Mandell says. “A better approach is making sure you’re doing some of both, developing technical and complementary core skills.”

For maximum training effectiveness, Mandell recommends that IT leaders follow a balanced approach. “By focusing on creating well-rounded teams, you’re thinking long term,” she says. You’ll also build a sustainable and resilient organization, not just tech skills for today. “Don’t let urgent things cloud your long-term strategy.”

3. Failing to address change

Commit to continual learning, development, and business alignment to stay ahead of the curve and fulfill larger business goals, advises Dalan Winbush, CIO at code application development platform firm Quickbase.

Because technology is always changing, IT personnel must stay current with new innovations to continue performing their jobs effectively. Prioritizing business alignment at the expense of continuous learning and growth may lead to lack of innovation, stagnation, and an inability to achieve organizational goals, he warns.

Training technology is also rapidly advancing. Intelligence automation (IA)-driven training options — including offerings that utilize artificial intelligence and machine learning — have the potential to boost training results by providing highly focused job- and business-relevant instruction featuring individualized learning experiences.

4. Disregarding diversity

Failing to recognize IT team members as unique individuals leads to uneven training results at best. “Diversity extends to the uniqueness in how we think and process information, and these differences shape the way we learn and interact,” says Ashwin Sadasiva Kumar, senior vice president, learning and campus head, at IT consulting firm Virtusa.

IT leaders and their training colleagues should design training modules that cater to all learning styles. “Some people are visual thinkers, while others are more analytical or creative,” Kumar says. Perspectives matter, he notes. “Therefore, training diversity is important, since it allows team members to approach problems and challenges from different angles, which can lead to more innovative solutions and better decision-making.”

Kumar suggests that CIOs should widen their training perspective and focus on their teams’ needs. “This starts with encouraging employees to be creative and curious, while also cultivating the workplace to prioritize individual growth,” he says. “Employees are looking for leaders to incubate a workplace where they have a seat at the table, whether that’s anticipating the needs of clients, understanding organizational needs and forecasts, identifying and pursuing deals, or feeling motivated.”

5. Instructional irrelevance

IT leaders tend to believe that most staff members understand training’s importance and how it relates to their job, says Orla Daly, CIO at educational technology firm Skillsoft. Yet that’s frequently not true.

IT pros want training relevancy, Daly says. If team members don’t understand why a specific training program or session is necessary, they probably won’t recognize its value. Focusing on topics that are relevant to their job, and may possibly lead to career advancement, will motivate staffers and make them eager to learn.

When lacking context on training’s value, team members are likely to dismiss training as an unnecessary chore. “They either won’t make time for it or will go through the motions without digesting or retaining any of the key messages or insights,” Daly explains. “This not only defeats the purpose of the intended training, but can lead to frustration and disengagement among teams.” IT professionals crave growth and professional development. “If they’re not seeing the value in their current training programs, they may lose motivation or even consider changing jobs.”

Building training relevancy requires IT leaders to recognize and demolish training barriers, such as course sessions that conflict with team members’ hectic work schedules or intruding on their personal time. “It also means connecting training to professional development and career growth,” Daly says.

Leadership development and power-skills training are frequently unfortunate afterthoughts, Daly states. “By showing employees how training can help them achieve their own career goals — in addition to supporting the needs of the business — IT leaders will see greater productivity and engagement from their team members.”

6. Cutting corners

Team education should never be regarded as an afterthought, so training programs should be allocated appropriate resources in terms of money, time, and trainers, says Randall Trzeciak, director of the Masters of Science Information Security Policy and Management program at Carnegie Mellon University.

“Don’t allow resource limitations to deny training to all relevant IT staff members, including secondary support staff,” he advises.

Unlike fine wines or blue jeans, training programs don’t age well. “Make sure that IT skills are keeping pace with change,” Trzeciak recommends. “Ensure there’s an ability to measure training effectiveness during and after the training program’s completion.”

7. Treating training as a discrete entity

Perhaps the best and most effective training approach is educating team members without them even realizing it, BARR Advisory’s Ryan says. Besides providing conventional formal training, a growing number of organizations are making training an integral part of each team member’s everyday work-life.

Ryan points to security training as an example. “This means sending out periodic reminders to employees, conducting regular phishing awareness and reporting exercises, and incentivizing employees to improve by gamifying the learning experience.”

IT Training 

In spite of long-term investments in such disciplines as agile, lean, and DevOps, many teams still encounter significant product challenges. In fact, one survey found teams in 92% of organizations are struggling with delivery inefficiency and a lack of visibility into the product lifecycle.[1] To take the next step in their evolutions, many teams are pursuing Value Stream Management (VSM). Through VSM, teams can establish the capabilities needed to better focus on customer value and optimize their ability to deliver that value.

While the benefits can be significant, there are a number of pitfalls that teams can encounter in their move to harness VSM. These obstacles can stymie progress, and erode the potential rewards that can be realized from a VSM initiative. In this post, I’ll take a look at four common pitfalls we see teams encounter, and provide some insights for avoiding these problems.

Pitfall #1: Missing the value

Very often, we see teams establish value streams that are doomed from inception. Why? Because they’re not centered on the right definition of value.

Too often, teams start with an incomplete or erroneous definition of value. For example, it is common to confuse new application capabilities with value. However, it may be that the features identified aren’t really wanted by customers. They may prefer fewer features, or even an experience in which their needs are addressed seamlessly, so they don’t even have to use the app. The key is to ensure you understand who the customer is and how they define value.

In defining value, teams need to identify the tangible, concrete outcomes that customers can realize. (It is important to note in this context, customers can be employees within the enterprise, as well as external audiences, such as customers and partners.) Benefits can include financial gains, such as improved sales or heightened profitability; enhanced or streamlined capabilities for meeting compliance and regulatory mandates; and improved competitive differentiation. When it comes to crystalizing and pursuing value, objectives and key results (OKRs) can be indispensable. OKRs can help teams gain improved visibility and alignment around value and the outcomes that need to be achieved.

Pitfall #2: Misidentifying value streams

Once teams have established a solid definition of value, it’s critical to gain a holistic perspective on all the people and teams that are needed to deliver that value. Too often, teams are too narrow in their value stream definitions.

Generally, value streams must include teams upstream from product and development, such as marketing and sales, as well as downstream, including support and professional services. The key here is that all value streams are built with customers at the center.



Pitfall #3: Focusing on the wrong metrics

While it’s a saying you hear a lot, it is absolutely true: what gets measured gets managed. That’s why it’s so critical to establish effective measurements. In order to do so, focus on these principles:

Prioritize customer value to ensure you’re investing in the right activities.Connect value to execution to ensure you’re building the right things.Align the execution of teams in order to ensure things are built right.

It is important to recognize that data is a foundational element to getting all these efforts right.

It is vital that this data is a natural outcome of value streams — not a separate initiative. Too often, teams spend massive amounts of money and time in aggregating data from disparate resources, and manually cobbling together data in spreadsheets and slides. Further, these manual efforts mean different teams end up looking at different data and findings are out of date. By contrast, when data is generated as a natural output of ongoing work, everyone can be working from current data, and even more importantly, everyone will be working from the same data. This is essential in getting all VSM participants and stakeholders on the same page.

Pitfall #4: Missing the big picture

Often, teams start with too narrow of a scope for their value streams. In reality, these narrow efforts are typically really single-process, business process management (BPM) endeavors. By contrast, value streams represent an end-to-end system for the flow of value, from initial concepts through to the customer’s realization of value. While BPM can be considered a tactical improvement plan, VSM is a strategic improvement plan. Value streams need to be high-level, but defined in such a way that they have metrics that can be associated with them so progress can be objectively monitored.

Tips for navigating the four pitfalls

 Put your clients at the heart of your value streams and strategize around demonstrable and measurable business outcomes.

Value streams are often larger than we think. Have you remembered to include sales, HR, marketing, legal, customer service and professional services in your value stream?

Measure what matters and forget about the rest. We could spend our days elbow deep in measuring the stuff that just doesn’t help move the needle.

 Learn More

To learn more about these pitfalls, and get in-depth insights for architecting an optimized VSM approach in your organization, be sure to check out our webinar, “Four Pitfalls of Value Stream Management and How to Avoid Them.”

[1] Dimensional Research, sponsored by Broadcom, “Value Streams are Accelerating Digital Transformation: A Global Survey of Executives and IT Leaders,” October 2021

Devops, Software Development