Enterprises more serious about SDN, survey suggests

There are two knocks against software-defined networking in the enterprise: Not all the pieces are ready yet for the approach, and the use case hasn’t been made out yet.

That may be changing, if a study by Infonetics Research is right. The company said that of 101 corporate purchase decision makers at medium and large organizations where SDN is in trials or about to be, 45 per cent plan to make networks live in the data centre next year. Eighty-seven per cent will be in production in 2016.

The numbers were part of excerpts of the report released Tuesday.

SDN virtualizes networks through a software controller that programs all network elements centrally. Every network equipment maker has an SDN strategy, usually built around the OpenFlow protocol that separates the data and control paths of traffic.

Among survey respondents, the top drivers for deploying SDN are improving management capabilities and improving application performance, Infonetics said. The leading barriers are  potential network interruptions and interoperability with existing network equipment.

Enabling hybrid cloud is dead last on the list of drivers, the research company added. It concludes that is a sign that SDN vendors have some work to do in educating enterprises that SDN can be an important enabler of hybrid cloud architectures.

Among the other findings released, on average, 17 per cent of respondents’ data center Ethernet switch ports are on bare metal switches, and only 21 per cent of those are in-use for SDN.

Nearly a quarter of the of businesses surveyed are ready to consider non-traditional network vendors for their SDN applications and orchestration software, the report added.

SDN and its sister, network function virtualization (NFV) have been accepted quicker among service providers looking for leading edge technology. An IDC report also released Tuesday says network virtualization “is set to revolutionize the telecom industry as it transforms the culture and operational infrastructure, as well as the fabric of legacy proprietary infrastructures.”

Communication service providers and their suppliers are embracing the promise and opportunities related to network virtualization approaches, IDC said in a summary of its report.

Use cases suggested by network equipment vendors include voice over LTE (VoLTE). However, IDC notes, communications providers are talking of  moving away from the current 5-9s service delivery model in the name of service agility and flexibility. “If so it remains to be seen whether and how NFV and SDN can ensure faster deployment while maintaining high standards of quality of experience (QoE),”  Sathya Atreyam, IDC’s research manager for wireless network infrastructure, said in a statement.

Nearly a quarter of the of businesses surveyed are ready to consider non-traditional network vendors for their SDN applications and orchestration software, the report added.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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