Survey Says: We Don’t Know What SDN Is, But We Want It!

A new survey from Tail-f Systems finds that nearly nine of ten (89%) organizations are at least discussing software defined networking, but despite the high interest, most companies are still fairly confused as to exactly what SDN is. The study of more than 200 large North American companies – 1,000-plus employees – by the Stockholm-based provider of network service programmability solutions for traditional and software defined networks, reported SDN was judged by to be the single most important technology initiative, eclipsing cloud, virtualization and mobility.

This was somewhat of a surprise, that SDN was considered more important than other major trends, said Carl Moberg, VP of Technology. The top two objectives were speed – faster deployment – and not making mistakes when deploying apps/services, he said.

The reasons respondents were considering SDN included: the increasing importance of app/services; the increasing number of apps/services; the move to automating network management; the faster pace of new app/services deployment; and virtualization. Of that 89%, 16% were in trials, 29% were in the process of implementation and 20% had already implemented SDN.

Faster deployment of new apps/services came in at 84%, just edging out making fewer mistakes when deploying apps/services, at 82%, and faster provisioning of new users or customers (81%). Rounding out the list of top five goals were decreased OpEx (69%); and avoiding vendor lock-in (68%);

From an SDN challenge perspective, cost overruns was the biggest concern (73%), followed by security (67%), changing the way the IT department works (64%), staff training (64%), and lack of knowledge (63%).

Essentially, the survey was a deeper dive into the impact of SDN on organizations, said Moberg. “We needed to understand the market better. Some of the things we found matching our world view pretty well, and others didn’t.”

Overall, he things SDN is in the same stage as any early-adoption technology. “We’re in that interesting place between unknown and after the worst stage of hype. It speaks about the up-front commitment to SDN.”

IDC puts the SDN market at $200 million in 2013, shooting up to $2 billion by 2016, while another study reports that nearly 25% of the enterprises interviewed have already deployed SDN technology in their data centers, and 33% plan to do so by the end of next year. According to another survey, while only 16% of IT managers intend to implement some form of SDN during the next 12 months, 40% plan to implement it in less than two years.

Moberg said while the high degree of interest in – and confusion about – SDN were somewhat surprising, “respondents were crystal clear on what they wanted from SDN”. He attributed much of this interest to boredom with existing network solutions. “Much of the SDN boom and OpenFlow traction is based on boredom. People want to do roughly what they’re doing now, but do it faster, automated and with less errors.”


Author: Steve Wexler

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