Six SDN Technology Predictions for 2017

By: Jacqueline Lee - Leave a comment


The software-defined networking (SDN) technology market is expected to hit $12.7 billion by 2020. SDN technology growth will remain slow and steady in the coming year, with different deployments and use cases dominating the enterprise. Here are six key predictions for SDN in 2017.

1. A Push for Hyper-Convergence

It takes about five to eight years for businesses to refresh their network infrastructure. As businesses begin to take those next steps, many will see the benefit of moving more resources into the virtual setting. When companies transition into virtual compute and storage environments, simultaneously moving the network into a virtual setting can be cost effective. This desire to bundle can benefit vendors that offer hyper-converged infrastructure services (HCIS).

HCIS, instead of visualizing IT as multiple silos of discrete components, conceptualizes infrastructure as a pool of resources for SDN controllers to allocate. It saves enterprises the hassle of navigating the still-evolving landscape of SDN standards by giving them a ready-to-go option. The drawback of choosing HCIS is that once the hardware is purchased, it can’t necessarily be decoupled from the attached software and reused.

2. Enterprises That Don’t Choose HCIS to Work With Multiple Vendors

Enterprises that are not ready to refresh network infrastructure or choose HCIS may bring SDN in piecemeal. Krista Macomber, data center senior analyst for Technology Business Research, tells Network Computing that enterprises may use one product to manage core network resources and another to orchestrate the upper layers. This desire for vendor heterogeneity means the following:

3. Demand for White Box Switching Will Grow

When enterprises need dynamic networks for a certain application, they can’t let vendor-specific appliances get in the way. James Liao, Pica8’s leader for strategy and growth, tells VMblog that white box tools, backed by respected brands, will give enterprises the flexibility they need.

White box switches are sold either as bare metal devices or deployed with minimal software. They can support many open-source cloud infrastructure tools along with a variety of SDN controllers. Liao expects to see white-box switching in enterprise data centers to enable more customization for data center applications.

4. Expect More Domain-Specific SDN Controllers Deployed on Non-x86 Architecture

When talking of customizing, however, we must also ensure we can account for non-x86 architectures — which Nitin Serro, CEO of Serro, says have reached peak performance and agility. He tells VMblog that he expects to see SDN powered by GPU accelerators, the same processors that run self-driving cars, robotics, artificial intelligence and virtual reality (VR).

These accelerators, says Serro, will enable incredible network scalability with limited latency. He predicts this will lead to domain-specific SDN technology that is both intelligent and incredibly fast, capable of orchestrating advanced applications between the data center and facilities all over the globe.

5. Security Remains the Primary Use Case for SDN Technology

But for now, many CIOs currently see no compelling case for switching to SDN. Just because it’s the newest thing doen’t seem to justify the cost or the learning curve. In the case of security, execs have a clear picture of how SDN brings measurable value. Enterprises, especially those in heavily regulated industries, will leverage SDN to respond to security threats in real time. It’s also great way for enterprises and even small and mid-sized businesses to dip their toe in the SDN waters.

6. SD-WAN Will Be the Next ‘Killer App’

Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Dan Conde, writing for Network Computing, also predicts SD-WAN will be the next major catalyst for SDN adoption in the enterprise. SD-WAN can help enterprises cope with the demands of software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications and other technologies (like VoIP) that place significant demand on existing infrastructure.

SD-WAN brings disparate elements — such as caching and compression for WAN optimization, as well as traffic optimization between MPLS, VPN and public internet — under one controller, under centralized policy management. It also provides a single solution for modernizing the WAN. Plus, it should pay for itself, by minimizing the multiplication of MPLS circuits and leveraging the much cheaper public internet while boosting network services quality.

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About The Author

Jacqueline Lee

Freelance Writer

Jacqueline Lee specializes in business and technology writing, drawing on over 10 years of experience in business, management and entrepreneurship. Currently, she blogs for HireVue and IBM, and her work on behalf of client brands has appeared in Huffington Post, Forbes, Entrepreneur and Inc. Magazine. In addition to writing, Jackie works as a social media... Read More