Less than a year ago, Gartner characterized the mainstream market action surrounding software-defined networking (SDN) as \u201cmostly just tire-kicking.\u201d That assessment of the market, however, is fast becoming old news. IDC has forecast\u00a0that the \u201cworldwide SDN market for the enterprise and cloud service provider segments will grow from $960 million in 2014 to over $8 billion by 2018.\u201d\nThat\u2019s an annual growth rate of nearly 90% and an indication, as IDC writes, that SDN \u201ccontinues to gain ground within the broader enterprise and cloud service provider markets for datacenter networking.\u201d\nSDN is designed to deliver a host of critical networking services\u2014like automated provisioning, network virtualization, and network programmability\u2014to data center and enterprise networks.\nThe 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.\nAs 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.\nWith so many obvious benefits, what\u2019s been keeping the adoption rate for SDNs so low until now?\nOne major factor has been the lack of a compelling business case, or as LightReading\u2019s Mitch Wagner writes, \u201cSDN exists down deep at the bottom of the network, while financial benefits become obvious high up in the application layers.\u201d\nBut that\u2019s 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.\nIndeed, business goals should guide an enterprise\u2019s SDN strategy. IT professionals who want to get the most of out their SDN deployments should consult with an experienced SDN provider.\nRead more about Software-Defined Networking solutions from Cisco Systems, then give us a ring if you have questions, our experts are here to help.