by Ishan Bhattacharya

Indian CIOs Keen on Adopting SDN

Sep 28, 20145 mins
BudgetingBusinessCloud Management

Even though SDN is in a very nascent stage, it is gradually attracting the attention of Indian CIOs. What might have been perceived as a hype yesterday, is fast becoming a reality now.

Talking about change in IT infrastructure, Indian enterprises are almost at the center of transformation. Adaptation to cloud-like architecture is no more a thing of future for small and large scale businesses. Now, taking the way how IT functions a step forward, software defined networking (SDN) might just open up mammoth opportunities for our CIOs.

“India is going through an explosive growth. There has been a triple digit growth from financial year 2013 to 2014 for us. In sectors like PSUs, education, banking, and finance there has been widespread adoption of modern-day technology,” says Edgar Dias, regional director, India, Brocade.

According to a new forecast from International Data Corporation (IDC), the worldwide SDN market for enterprise and cloud service provider segments will grow from $960 million (about Rs 5760 crore) in 2014 to over $8 billion (about Rs 48,000 crore) by 2018, representing a robust CAGR of 89.4 percent. Owing to the seductive numbers, Indian CIOs are probably getting tempted.

“Some CIOs are not sure whether they can take a proprietary or an open approach. But, if you can guarantee that a SDN product has gone through all quality and assurance analysis, enhancement, and other regular processes based on an open source initiative, I am sure CIOs will adopt it. SDN will undoubtedly have a tremendous impact in the coming one or one and a half year,” says George Chacko, systems engineer manager and lead technical consultant, Brocade.

Indian CIOs might have been initially suspicious regarding SDN thinking it could be a hype, but now they are definitely looking at it as an opportunity to revamp their old IT infrastructure.

“SDN is definitely not a hype, it is a demand. Datacenters were mostly operated by a person called datacenter operator and he used to report to datacenter-in-charge and this in turn was divided into two halves called administration and expertise,” says Suresh Shanmugam, national head – Business Information Technology Solutions, Mahindra & Mahindra Financial Services.

The networking domain in India has been the same for a long time. But today, we are in a situation where applications have changed, virtualization has crept in and people are building cloud-like architectures.

“India is now in a phase where the older architecture isn’t compatible with the new generation applications and this is where fabric based architecture and network function virtualization comes in and SDN is more relevant now than before,” says Chacko.

“I do not think SDN is an exaggeration. Software defined networking will give a lot more flexibility than we have now,” says Subramanyam Putrevu, CIO, Mindtree.

Chacko believes that there are three things that will drastically bring in change in the enterprise world. And they are fabric-based infrastructure, virtualizing network functions, and software defined network.

Initially networks were built to suit a layered approach and now it has dramatically changed, therefore, there is a need now to change the whole application infrastructure, including compute and storage.

“No matter what the technology is, there are always some early adopters and there will be someone murky who will be adopting SDN technology and re-architect his entire network. This will definitely raise interest among others,” says Dias.

“SDN is to drive agility and programmability. Some CIOs are hesitant to adopt SDN because they do not have the people to program, but here the packaged applications take care of programming,” says Chacko.

“In India the trend is definitely towards software defined technology and its demand will gradually rise. Nowadays you can hardly see executives running around with screwdrivers to fix switches. Keeping in mind this changing scenario, software defined will matter a lot in the future. Monitoring areas by using software is definitely the better way than depending on hardware,” says Shanmugam.

Chacko is of the opinion that with SDN a CIO does not have to think how he needs to program it, or worry about resources and skill set. He feels by using this solution a CIO can easily get his business problems solved. “Focus should not be on SDN, but on the business problem it solves,” says Chako.

A major advantage of using an open source technology is that it will enable CIOs to break free from vendor lock-ins.

“Adaptation of SDN technology will bring in a lot more heterogeneity. It will also certainly enable low vendor lock-in and will increase the return on investment,” says Putrevu.

For instance, apps made phones do different functions. SDN has the same potential. It has the power to re-architect the way we do things. It is doing more for less and with ease of use.

When it comes to enterprises in the domain of broadcasting and real time monitoring, avoiding downtime becomes very critical.

“The fabric becomes a crucial part when you need to ensure that there is no downtime. At the end of the day software has to reside on something. So hardware is not going to go away, and it has to be highly resilient, available, and flexible to be able to handle different kinds of traffic flows,” says Dias.

Shanmugam adds that when it comes to software defined, things are less costly when compared to hardware, especially when we think of importing hardware.

With so much positivity around SDN, the thing that remains to be seen is whether CIOs will adopt it with much zeal in the coming days.