2023 Network Operations and Security Survey
An online survey of 250 Network Security and Operations Professionals at companies with 500+ employees, conducted between January 26th and February 2nd, 2023. Methodology notes at bottom of page.
1. What is your company's current approach to network automation?
*Data under "QuickFacts" were derived from the responses, not included as response options that were read during fielding. We include QuickFacts in instances where we feel they will be helpful.
- We execute most network changes manually: 5%
- We prefer to build our own tools and scripts: 10%
- "We highly leverage open-source tools": 17%
- "We have some configuration management tools but have not implemented a network automation platform": 17%
- We've implemented a network automation solution and are automating simple changes: 28%
- We're deeply invested in network automation and strive to execute all changes programmatically: 23%
- HAVE AT LEAST SOME CONFIGURATION MANAGEMENT TOOLS OR MORE (NET): 69%
- IMPLEMENTED/DEEPLY INVESTED IN NETWORK AUTOMATION (NET): 52%
- HAVE NOT IMPLEMENTED/DEEPLY INVESTED IN NETWORK AUTOMATION (NET): 48%
2. What are the top barriers to increasing your use of network automation?
– Too expensive to switch to more automated solutions: 41%
– Too locked into our current processes and vendors: 39%
– Distrust more automated solutions: 38%
– Previous negative experience with automation: 35%
– Lack of staff skillset to support automation: 35%
– Leadership is skeptical of automation: 33%
– Other: -
– None of these: 4%
- ANY (NET): 96%
- DISTRUST/SKEPTICISM (NET): 80%
3. How strongly do you agree or disagree with the following statement: Scaling the business is impossible without automating network operations.
- Strongly agree: 35%
- Somewhat agree: 61%
- Somewhat disagree: 3%
- Strongly disagree: 1%
- AGREE (NET): 96%
- DISAGREE (NET): 4%
4. How much do you trust your current approach to automating network changes?
- Completely / 100% trust: 24%
- Mostly trust: 46%
- Somewhat trust: 23%
- Trust a little: 7%
- Don't trust at all: -
- LESS THAN COMPLETELY/100% TRUST (NET): 76%
- SOMEWHAT TRUST OR LESS (NET): 30%
5. How confident are you in your ability to rapidly restore your network from backup within a few minutes of an outage or misconfiguration?
- Completely / 100% confident: 20%
- Mostly confident: 52%
- Somewhat confident: 24%
- Only a little confident: 4%
- Not confident at all: 0%
- LESS THAN COMPLETELY/100% CONFIDENT (NET): 80%
- SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT OR LESS (NET): 29%
6. How many different tools does your company use for network automation, including those built in-house?
- No tools (0): 1%
- 1 to less than 5: 54%
- 5 or more: 45%
- AVERAGE INCLUDING ZERO (TOOLS): 4
- AVERAGE NOT INCLUDING ZERO (TOOLS): 4
7. How often are you able to upgrade all of your network and security devices?
- Weekly: 7%
- Monthly: 32%
- Quarterly: 38%
- Two or three times a year: 10%
- Annually: 12%
- Less than once per year: 0%
- WEEKLY/MONTHLY (NET): 39%
- QUARTERLY OR LESS (NET): 61%
8. How often do network operations issues arise that require manual work (meaning they aren't addressed automatically)?
- All the time: 8%
- Often: 35%
- Sometimes: 38%
- Rarely: 18%
- Never: 1%
- EVER (NET): 99%
- ALL THE TIME/OFTEN (NET): 42%
- AT LEAST SOMETIMES (NET): 81%
9. How strongly do you agree or disagree with the following statement: Our team often addresses network issues by fixing the immediate problem without addressing the root cause.
(Asked among those whose network operations issues that arise require mannual work)
- Strongly agree: 27%
- Somewhat agree: 49%
- Somewhat disagree: 13%
- Strongly disagree: 11%
- AGREE (NET): 76%
- DISAGREE (NET): 24%
10. How strongly do you agree or disagree with the following statement: There are more network updates needed than we can keep up with.
- Strongly agree: 36%
- Somewhat agree: 56%
- Somewhat disagree: 7%
- Strongly disagree: 1%
- AGREE (NET): 92%
- DISAGREE (NET): 8%
11. What do you not like about your company's current approach to network automation?
- Difficult to add new automations without impacting current operations: 40%
- Only covers part of our network (some vendors, some device types): 33%
- Too dependent on the skillsets of individual employees: 32%
- Compliance concerns hamper automation efforts: 32%
- Poor integration of automations into service desk and other IT workflows: 31%
- Approach is piecemeal rather than part of a larger automation strategy: 30%
- Requires too much manual interaction: 29%
- Have automation solutions that don't work with each other or seem to do the same thing: 28%
- Other: -
- There is nothing I dislike about my company's current approach to automation in its network operations: 7%
- THERE IS SOMETHING I DISLIKE ABOUT MY COMPANY'S CURRENT APPROACH TO AUTOMATION IN ITS NETWORK OPERATIONS (NET): 93%
12. The last time your company experienced a cybersecurity breach from an attack or malicious actor, did it exploit…
- A known vulnerability: 56%
- A new, previously undiscovered vulnerability: 44%
13. Based on what you can tell, does your leadership prioritize cybersecurity spending on response (reactive) or prevention (proactive)?
- Prevention (proactive): 62%
- Response (reactive): 38%
14. How much does your network operations team feel overlooked compared to other IT teams in their contributions to ensuring company security?
- Significantly overlooked: 19%
- Somewhat overlooked: 44%
- A little overlooked: 30%
- Not overlooked at all: 8%
- OVERLOOKED AT ALL (NET): 92%
- AT LEAST SOMEWHAT OVERLOOKED (NET): 63%
15. How strongly do you agree or disagree with the following statement: Having more automated network operations will allow our team to focus on more impactful work.
- Strongly agree: 39%
- Somewhat agree: 59%
- Somewhat disagree: 1%
- Strongly disagree: 1%
- AGREE (NET): 98%
- DISAGREE (NET): 2%
The BackBox Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research (www.wakefieldresearch.com) among 250 Network Security and Operations Professionals at companies with 500+ employees, between January 26th and February 2nd, 2023, using an email invitation and an online survey.
Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. For the interviews conducted in this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 6.2 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample.