How SDN Supports a More Agile Business

As businesses place a greater emphasis on being more agile and able to react quicker to market changes and customer preferences, SDN (software-defined networking) has captured the attention of IT executives and managers. SDN is a general term that covers several kinds of network technology aimed at making the network as agile and flexible as the virtualized server and storage infrastructure of today’s data center. The ultimate goal of SDN is to allow IT departments to respond quickly to changing business requirements.

As beneficial as SDN is, it is not without its challenges, so to better understand how enterprises view current networking technologies—and plans for SDN deployments—QuinStreet Enterprise surveyed IT decision-makers and put out a report, titled, “SDN Growth Takes IT Infrastructure by Storm.”

The survey of 466 IT professionals was conducted online in October 2015.

Among the top benefits of SDN? Cost savings and security—but they are also perceived as being among the top challenges. Yet respondents said the expected benefits outweigh the challenges, and many organizations are moving from VLANs to SDN architectures. Among respondents, 38 percent of those with VLANs also use SDN. An additional 15 percent are planning to deploy SDN within the next 12 months, and 10 percent plan to do so within two years. Another 24 percent are considering SDN but have no plans to adopt it at this time. Only 13 percent of VLAN users have no plans to adopt SDN.

The report also revealed that:

*The top perceived benefits of SDN are cost savings, improved network performance, increased productivity and improved security. Cost savings, integration and security are also considered the top three challenges in implementing SDN.

*SDN is deployed with a combination of cloud, virtual switches and bare metal. For organizations that opt for the cloud, the No. 1 driver is the ability to easily update networking appliances.

*Open source, particularly OpenStack, is considered extremely or very important by half of companies deploying or considering SDN.

*Enterprises are most likely to purchase SDN solutions from the large networking suppliers while midsize companies lean more heavily on the Channel and niche solution suppliers.

As SDN matures, its acceptance is quickly growing. Technology companies and financial services firms are often among the early adopters. While SDN deployments are within every industry, their presence is strongest in technology-related fields and financial services. Nearly one-fifth of respondents involved with SDN self-identified as being from technology-based industries. An additional 12 percent came from telecommunications or Internet firms, and 11 percent came from financial services. Other industries represented included manufacturing, government, health care and energy.

As interest in SDN grows, so too do the solutions from which to choose. Organizations can build their SDN architecture from a variety of channels. Larger companies are most likely to go with a large networking supplier. VARs are also a popular choice. For midsize companies, large networking suppliers were also the most frequently chosen supplier; however, they relied more on VARs and resellers. Niche solution suppliers are also most popular in the midmarket.

SDN provides the ability for IT teams to react quicker to the tech needs of the business. It is a technology that is gaining momentum, and CIOs and tech leaders should take a strong look at how SDN can fit into their enterprise needs.

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