Here we are less than a year after widespread doubt was raised about the future of software-defined networking, and almost half of the organizations discussing SDN couldn’t even define it, and we’re seeing calls for SDN 2.0. “Back in generation one of SDN – 2011-2012 – there was a great deal of hype in the market,” said Doug Murray, CEO of Big Switch Networks, in a recent interview with IT Trends & Analysis. The initial focus on a network overlay approach “wasn’t really delivering the benefits we were looking for,” so Big Switch, which now bills itself as the Bare Metal SDN company adopted a new strategy that involves orchestration of physical and virtual networks from bare metal switches.
Extreme Networks is another company pushing SDN 2.0, with a recently announced strategy that combines existing products with new capabilities and integrations. The company has added support for several new vendors’ products that include: vSphere 5.5 support, McAfee ePO, LightSpeed and Fibrelink Mass360. These new integrations come on top of over 25 that were already available.
According to a new survey from Infonetics Research SDN and NFV (network functions virtualization) are moving from lab to field trials. The survey of the major service providers that account for 51% of worldwide telecom capex, 29% are currently implementing SDNs, and 52% plan to evaluate SDNs by the end of 2014, and nearly every operator plans to deploy SDN (97%) or NFV (93%) in some aspect of their network at some point.
“This is the year that SDN and NFV move from the lab to field trials,” noted Michael Howard, co-founder and principal analyst for carrier networks at Infonetics Research. “Many carriers are in the process of moving from SDN/NFV proof-of-concept projects to working with vendors in the development and ‘productization’ of software that will become the basis for commercial deployments. I saw a lot of this software running in demos in vendor and operator stands at the recent Mobile World Congress, and it’s easy to see it is much more real this year.”
He added: “Over the coming months, a few operators will move to actual commercial deployments, mostly specific NFV use cases, but only a few. It won’t be until 2015 that we’ll see commercial deployments kick into motion, still most likely on a limited basis, as operators put one or two use cases to the test under real world conditions, in their live networks.”
Regardless of the generation, SDN forecasts are all over the place, ranging from $3.7 billion by 2016 to as high as $35 billion by 2018. Only 10% of organizations either have no interest or are not familiar enough with SDN to have a position; of the other 90%, 39% are in the planning and evaluation stage, 27% have begun implementations, and the remaining 24% say they’re interested but have no SDN initiatives underway, according to a recent survey from Enterprise Strategy Group.
“It’s reflective of the fact that organizations need to change the way they’re doing networking today,” Bob Laliberte, senior analyst with ESG. “Everyone’s hoping SDN will help them make that change.”
Another recent survey, from the Linux Foundation’s OpenDaylight Project, via Gigaom Research, reported that 95% of networking pros want open-source software-defined networking technologies. More than half of the 600 respondents intend to deploy SDN and NFV in 2014, and 97% by 2015, driven by concerns about security (72%), network utilization (64%), network deployment and management (62%), and network operating expense (61%).
There are ample reasons why networks that are manual, fragile and broke, must change. A Brocade study found that while 75% of enterprises have updated their IT environments in the last three years, 91% of IT decision-makers stated that their current IT infrastructures still require substantial upgrades, and 33% admitted that their organizations experience multiple network failures each week. More than half, 61%, said their corporate networks are not fit for the intended purpose, with 41% admitting that network downtime has caused their business financial hardship either directly through lost revenue or breached SLAs or from their customers’ lack of confidence.
The next move for Big Switch and SDN ecosystem is to get people comfortable using bare metal and SDN, said Murray. “It’s really about making SDN become a reality.”
Like many others, he believes this is the year of SDN trials and early deployments. “2015 and 2016 will start to see the initial lift.”