by Yogesh Gupta

Software Defined soon to be board room topic: Pankaj Prasad,Gartner

Jan 28, 2016
BusinessComputers and PeripheralsEnergy Industry

There are no clear trends in the direction of SDx but 2016 will be the year of emergence of SDx protocols, says Pankaj Prasad, principal research analyst, Gartner  

Software Defined or SDe or SDx is the hottest technology in enterprise market in 2015. And it is poised to have more adoption by enterprises in 2016. Pankaj Prasad, principal research analyst, Gartner demystifies the hype and reality around software defined for India market.

What is overall market size of SDx in India in 2015? Is there any data points that Gartner measures? 

We do not track the market size of India. The other aspect is that there is no specific metric for SDx. We however captured SDx data in a different manner. Globally, the software part is 500 million dollars and it is 1.1 billion dollars for hardware.(this is for SDI related software and hardware that empowers SDI)

SDN is witnessing more traction and it is more matured compared to others in India. And software defined storage (SDS) closely follows it and when we say closely we can take it with a pinch of salt. Other forms of SDx will take more time – as an example – software defined compute will not emerge as a major disruptive way for at least next two years.

Any roadblocks by Indian CIOs or Indian companies to go software defined route completely?

The organizations are already invested in technologies. SDs is an architecture on top of the beautiful building of IT infrastructure. In software defined you just look at the layer of bricks, and your architecture is like a hologram or something different than layer of bricks. Having said that, it is not easy job to scrap the part. In fact it is not recommended to retro fit existing IT infrastructure with something which is software defined.

However companies going across to cloud or newer infra or new set ups, they are more curious about adapting SDx. However for them stabilizing existing environment in cloud is a priority. There are other issues with SDx like vendor lock in, maturity curve and fewer success stories.

What are the major factors driving the organizations to become SDx enabled?

Let’s talk about software defined in different language. We are looking at digital business growing in a big way. In fact almost 9 percentile is expected across industries as a growth factor from digital revenues. How do we link them to software defined? Digital, bimodal all these are the kind of the cultural shift. The technological shift of software defined is the key driver. The concepts like digital bimodal demand agility, fluidity and anywhere compute. You cannot have a person drive to the datacenter and for the plugging and unplugging which will take entire day. Do it at flick of button and change few codes. Agility is the major factor besides programmability, control, visibility as other ones for SDx.

Is SDx more like a concept like virtualization and cloud than a point product? Every vendor, every analyst and every user has their individual connotation.

SDX or software defined anything is an umbrella term for various categories. SDx is primarily composed of software defined application services (SDAS) and software defined infrastructure (SDI). Under infra, you have software defined facilities (SDF), software defined compute (SDC), network (SDN) .storage (SDS) and all those aspect.

There are vendors in each of these layers who are very keen to provide that abstraction from low lying hardware. You can do a lot of storage side but we want storage to look like platter. It’s a paradigm shift as in terms of what hardware vendor had as differentiator and what will be the differentiator tomorrow. SDx is more about how to manage that low lying architecture (irrespective of the physical and logical boundary) and still provide value that is easily accessible to anyone.

SDx is more about how to manage that low lying architecture (irrespective of the physical and logical boundary) and still provide value that is easily accessible to anyone.

Have the technology OEMs evangelized the market enough for SDx skillsets because usually in hype terms the skillsets often come much later than the actual technology adoption?

In this case, we are looking at the capability of programmability as well. Secondly, there is enough market awareness in terms of understanding the infrastructure. There is no dearth of people who are capable of managing servers, storage, and network. Instead of a datacenter full of racks, they are now given one console that gives visibility across all the racks. It is just a shift from using concepts in physical world to digital world or software world. That would a challenge but not a major disruptor.

The challenge is how these people you select with new skills to fluidly communicate across the coders (the application developers and software people) who will help program these things in SDx. That synergy is where we might see skillsets gap between these two set of people.

The challenge is how these people you select with new skills to fluidly communicate across the coders (the application developers and software people) who will help program these things in SDx. 

How do you see enterprise users building a robust SDx posture?

Many enterprises have those controls. There is often a strife between technical or IT operations team look at versus what the business teams looks at. Maybe from data scale perspective because these are emerging technologies, they are not very sure what to expect and what is offered on the platter and what the portfolio says.  The demonstrations (demos) are key. The awareness of what these providers can offer becomes an important aspect.

The second aspect from the business side is that they are more curios of real world scenario. People talking about software defined does not make much sense unless they see a case study.

There are other factors wherein nothing much can be done. How do you prevent vendor lock-in? There are no standards as protocols are still being developed on SDx management. Plus the comprehensive understanding of SDx. Do you consider virtualized environment as software defined? By itself it is not software defined (although a necessary and foundational element). The moment you see hardware component in a solution or architecture, it should start ringing the bells. (for example, Software defined should allow you to replace hardware infrastructure with minimal or zero impact to applications).

Will Software Defined become a board room topic for enterprises?

It is not an immediate board room topic but in near future. Both organizations– IT and Business – are more keen to safe-guard their existing investments. It is definitely a topic but not a core one. If it comes up –at the start, middle and end of the discussion: It will probably crop up at the end (of board room discussions) as – “are we thinking about software defined?”

Where do you see the adoption curve lie for Software defined? Where will rubber hit the road for these technologies?

There are no clear trends in the direction of SDx in terms of verticals or segment size. However 2016 will be the year of evolution. A year where protocols for SDx will emerge. Private cloud and hybrid cloud providers and even users will look at the software defined first. That trend will increase. But from end user not much is expected, however the disruption from market perspective will be huge

SDX is not an overhype and it is real. It will evolve. SDN adoption is much higher and continue faster followed by SDS. The speed of adoption will be determined by factors like – providing the freedom to end user community to choose between vendors, exhibiting maturity to separate talk from actual matter where one vendor said something and other vendor counters that claim. That kind of jostling, proper protocols and evolution of standards are few inhibitors to SDx.

Yogesh Gupta is executive editor at IDG Media. You can reach him at or follow him at @yogsyogi1