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Survey: Enterprises ready to buy SDN products

A majority of U.S. businesses are preparing to implement SDN products in the data center by 2017 in order to reduce networking costs.

U.S. companies are preparing to take software-defined networking (SDN) into production over the next couple of years, driven in part by the desire to build hybrid clouds, a research firm found.

A survey of 153 medium and large businesses found nearly 80% planning to implement SDN technology in the data center in 2017, Infonetics Research, a unit of IHS Inc., said in a recent report. More than six in 10 of the respondents were either conducting or planning to launch SDN lab trials this year.

The study indicates that current SDN products deliver a level of performance and reliability sufficient for mainstream use. Hardware and software launched over the last year have made it possible to use SDN in the data center with an IT department less skilled than early adopters like telecommunication companies, cloud service providers and Wall Street banks.

"The solutions have started to mature," Infonetics analyst and study author Clifford Grossner said. "The use cases are becoming more well-defined."

Uses for SDN

The survey asked companies how they planned to use Software defined networking products in reducing capital expenditures (Capex), lowering operational expenses (Opex) and boosting employee productivity. For the first two, respondents listed automated disaster recovery and hybrid clouds.

A third use case for lowering Capex was monitoring application traffic patterns in the network. For Opex, respondents said SDN would be used to automate provisioning of application services and networking hardware like servers and switches.

To improve technology related to employee productivity, companies planned to apply SDN in automating application deployment, optimizing network traffic flow and moving virtual machines.

Best-known vendors

More than 70% of the survey respondents named Cisco as a top SDN hardware and software vendor. IBM, Juniper Networks and VMware were also chosen, but by a much smaller percentage of companies.

The survey indicated that the above vendors had strong brands, but that does not mean they will be chosen for an SDN implementation, Grossner said.

Alternate vendors were just as likely to be considered for Software defined networking products like controllers and orchestration applications. "There's a chunk of enterprises looking at open source vendors for their applications or pure third-party SDN vendors," Grossner said.

What enterprises want in implementing SDN is a multivendor environment. If a company, for example, chooses an OpenDaylight controller, then it will expect vendors' hardware and software to support the open source software.

During other major technological changes, vendors have tried to trap companies within their product portfolio, Grossner said. SDN, however, is a "new day."

"Those vendors that don't eventually play along won't get so rewarded as they have been in the past," he said.

Next Steps

Emerging SDN use cases

Getting training in SDN

What to ask SDN vendors

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