The software defined networking (SDN) market is new, which is why analysts and the media have varying perspectives on the strategy. For the most part, experts believe SDN is no passing fad and will continue to influence the enterprise architecture in the coming years. At the same time, however, experts believe SDN is still relatively young and in a conceptual stage, meaning developing a project with strong return on investment figures may not yet be possible.
A recent InformationWeek highlighted how SDN promises to deliver similar benefits to cloud computing, including greater infrastructure flexibility, increased utilization of network capacity and reduced operating expenses. While these “promises” are still in theory, largely because SDN has not reached its full adoption yet, the strategies will likely change the status quo in the coming years.
“Today, security, routing and energy management are dictated by the box,” said Nick McKeown, an SDN visionary and Stanford professor, according to InformationWeek. “That’s why the infrastructure hasn’t changed for 40 years.”
While the infrastructure landscape has changed, thanks to the proliferation of virtualization and cloud technologies, networks have long been more traditional. Fortunately, this is changing, as 26 percent of companies are either testing SDN or will have completed its analysis within 12 months, while 4 percent are already finished with the examination phase and have put SDN in production, the news source reported.
SDN improves speed and flexibility
While there are a number of benefits associated with SDN, roughly 66 percent of businesses said the ability to speed up delivery and have a more efficient and flexible network was the top selling point, InformationWeek noted. This is largely because the way companies provision resources needs to change.
In the past, companies would often buy excess capacity in the hopes that doing so would eliminate the need to go back and add it later on. This means that the majority of infrastructures are over-provisioned, costing firms more money than necessary.
These advantages were highlighted in a separate report by IDC, which forecast the global SDN market to generate roughly $3.7 billion in revenue by 2016, up from $360 million in 2013.
“Providing better alignment with the underlying applications, [SDN's] programmability allows for greater levels of flexibility, innovation and control in the network,” said Rohit Mehra, vice president of network infrastructure at IDC. “Logic and policies that can be defined, changed, and modified result in a more dynamic network, providing the scale network administrators so desperately crave.”
In addition to improving agility, SDN enables organizations to boost operations for less money.
Better security with fewer expenses
Improving security is often at the top of IT priorities for companies around the world. In fact, roughly 58 percent of businesses cited augmenting protection as among their top projects for 2013, InformationWeek noted. Because it can be difficult to apply security tools to incoming and outgoing applications and endpoints in today’s virtual data center, having a better way to implement unified policies through SDN can provide numerous advantages.
This approach to security and network agility both mean companies are utilizing their resources more effectively, which will result in reduced expenses – a critical benefit in today’s highly competitive business world. While experts say SDN is still too young to provide any hard evidence toward savings, most believe managing assets more effectively will ultimately result in lower costs.
In the coming years, the SDN landscape will mature and encourage decision-makers around the world to embrace the future of IT infrastructure.