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The fledgling software-defined networking movement is still trying to find its feet, with networking companies issuing products that are still being piloted by enterprises.

But a new report says annual sales could total more than US$3.5 billion by 2018.

The report by Transparency Market Research was described this week by Network Computing.

SDN, which lets centralized software control switches and routers through orchestration to react automatically to network flows, is an approach to networking that no equipment maker wants to be left behind.

Name the company — Cisco Systems Inc., IBM Corp. and Juniper Networks (which this week released its SDN controller for commercial sale) – and it is making regular SDN announcements.

The spread of cloud computing and BYOD are factors that could drive demand for software-defined networking, the report notes. But while SDN has advantages, the report notes one problem inhibiting its spread is a lack of standardization.

The news article also includes an interview with PricewaterhouseCoopers analyst Aritomo Shinozaki, who points out that the ecosystem and applications to drive SDN’s benefits are also nascent.

On the other hand, he makes the valid point that it may not be long before SDN makes a meaningful dent in traditional networks. Almost every network equipment maker has some products with SDN-enabling technologies in it now, he argued, and in the near future that number will only increase.

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