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Vendor Shares in Flux as North American Businesses Prepare to Implement SDN in the Data Center

March 02, 2015

According to Infonetics Research’s recent in-depth surveys with 153 medium and large businesses in North America, 79 percent of companies polled are planning to have software-defined networking (SDN) in live production in the data center in 2017. This movement of SDN toward implementation means that the market is up for grabs. 

The new study, Data Center SDN Strategies: North American Enterprise Survey, assesses how the enterprise data center SDN market is evolving. The study provides insight on enterprise buyers’ attitudes regarding when and where they will invest in SDN to transform their data centers.  According to the research, with so many data centers available for modernization, data center administrators are open to evaluating solutions not just from traditional vendors but alternatives as well.  

Source:  Infonetics Research

“We asked enterprises from which vendors they plan to source data center SDN hardware and software for the physical network, network OS, controller, orchestration software, applications, and virtual network overlays. Many will turn to incumbent network vendors, of course, but a big ‘a-ha’ moment for us was seeing how many plan to look to non-incumbent network vendors, including third-party SDN vendors, open source vendors, existing virtualization vendors and others,” Cliff Grossner, Ph.D., research director for data center, cloud and SDN at Infonetics Research, said. 

“As SDN in the enterprise data center grows legs in 2015, thought leadership in this nascent market will give way to market share leaders with measurable revenue. Now is the time for existing and new vendors to grab market share. Respondents are moving from lab trials in 2015 to production trials in 2016 and to live production in 2017,” Grossner said.

Other highlights from the survey include:

  • Cisco (71 percent), then IBM, Juniper and VMware were most commonly cited by survey participants in response to questions about whom they consider to be the top three SDN hardware or software vendors, a measure that reflects a vendor’s overall brand strength.
  • 65 percent of survey respondents are currently conducting data center SDN lab trials or will do so in 2015.
  • Respondents’ expectations for SDN in the data center are clear; they want better security, application performance, and simplified management—without causing network interruptions.
  • Popular data center SDN use cases include automation for disaster recovery, provisioning, application deployment, and enabling hybrid cloud.
  • Data center orchestration software represents one of the biggest opportunities for third-party SDN vendors and existing virtualization vendors.

As a result of open source becoming the preferred way to move to SDN, it seems buyers are open to considering solutions from more than their traditional vendors. Ironically, this comes at a time when those traditional vendors themselves are moving to embrace open source to protect their installed bases.

While the survey looks to 2017 as the year for implementation, 2015 will also be a critical year in the evaluation process. And, as the report points out, the orchestration is the early low-hanging fruit, and those three big use case areas are the ones to pay close attention to as the market matures. 

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

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