Less than a year ago, Gartner characterized the mainstream market action surrounding software-defined networking (SDN) as “mostly just tire-kicking.” That assessment of the market, however, is fast becoming old news. IDC has forecast that the “worldwide SDN market for the enterprise and cloud service provider segments will grow from $960 million in 2014 to over $8 billion by 2018.”
That’s an annual growth rate of nearly 90% and an indication, as IDC writes, that SDN “continues to gain ground within the broader enterprise and cloud service provider markets for datacenter networking.”
SDN is designed to deliver a host of critical networking services—like automated provisioning, network virtualization, and network programmability—to data center and enterprise networks.
The advantage of SDN is that it allows central management of network policies and resources. This all operates through a software-based controller that works with hardware from different vendors.
As you might imagine, SDN eliminates a lot of the routine maintenance and support that ties up IT resources. This gives an enterprise the opportunity to better think strategically, be more flexible and agile, and better leverage cloud applications and a converged infrastructure.
With so many obvious benefits, what’s been keeping the adoption rate for SDNs so low until now?
One major factor has been the lack of a compelling business case, or as LightReading’s Mitch Wagner writes, “SDN exists down deep at the bottom of the network, while financial benefits become obvious high up in the application layers.”
But that’s changing as the use cases start adding up and business executives start noticing changes to the bottom line. According to two recent surveys sponsored by Cisco Systems, use cases reported for SDN include unified wired and wireless networks, virtual machine migration, cloud hosting, load balancing and software-defined clouds. This all adds up to operational efficiency which then translates into stronger financial performance.
Indeed, business goals should guide an enterprise’s SDN strategy. IT professionals who want to get the most of out their SDN deployments should consult with an experienced SDN provider.