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What's the status of SDN deployments in the enterprise?

When it comes to widespread SDN deployments in the enterprise, are we there yet? Networking expert Lee Doyle says not quite… but we're on the way.

Software-defined networking (SDN) is starting to make progress in large enterprises, especially with certain applications such as SD-WAN. The number of SDN deployments will increase over the next couple of years as the technology matures, the industry sets standards and IT managers become more comfortable with the benefits SDN brings to their organizations.

SDN adoption is on its way among leading web-scale providers -- such as Google, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft -- and communication service providers -- such as AT&T, CenturyLink, NTT and others. In the enterprise, however, it is still in very early stages. Many large enterprises lack a clear business driver for SDN adoption, while others are waiting for technologies and standards to mature before they plan SDN deployments.

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SDN is, however, gaining early adoption in the wide area network (WAN), especially in distributed organizations with many branch offices, due to the clear business case to leverage low-cost, high-speed Internet access. Software-defined WAN leverages software- and cloud-based technologies to deploy Internet-based connectivity easily and quickly -- with quality, reliability and security. 

SDN also impacts the way organizations build and operate their data centers by enabling IT to quickly provision and better manage a large number of high-speed network links. Leading enterprises have started to deploy SDN overlays, SDN controllers and network operating systems that enable lower cost white box switches. Most of these SDN deployments are in early stages and many coincide with new data center builds such as OpenStack deployments.

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This was last published in August 2015

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