Simplifying SDN deployment for the enterprise

by Sohini Bagchi    Jul 09, 2013

SDN market

Enterprises are realizing that Software Defined Networking (SDN) has the potential to make networks more flexible, secure and improve quality of service, besides reducing the operating costs. However, despite its high growth potential experts believe it makes up only a fraction of the overall enterprise networking market today. According to them, deployment and integration pose major challenges in its adoption and therefore, there is an urgent need to simplify the SDN deployment models for the enterprise.

SDN majors like Cisco and Juniper are trying to simplify SDN models to reach out to a greater number of enterprise clients. Cisco for example has recently unveiled a new application-centric SDN and is taking an integrated hardware/software approach to simplify network provisioning across disparate architectures. The networking major is creating a common framework for maintaining this virtualization model across any network with the help of its SDN platforms like Cisco ONE.

Similarly Juniper Networks is also bullish on simplifying the SDN model. Brad Brooks, the company’s worldwide enterprise marketing explains in his blog that just like cloud computing, it’s the agility in the technology that customers appreciate. The company recently tied up with Citrix to run its CloudStack and is committed to OpenStack to simplify the SDN architecture so as to create a more agile network infrastructure for the enterprise.

Its not only the bigger players who are upbeat on bringing ease and innovation in SDN deployment, several startups are also entering the market to simplify SDN deployment. Embrane, a US-based emerging SDN firm, backed by Lightspeed Venture Partners, for example, has come up with an SDN solution that is compatible with any underlying hardware. It claimed to offer SDN solution that was truly heterogeneous and cross vendor, something even bigger players failed to do. Chief Executive of Embrane Dante Malagrino says. “We provide the kind of agility at the network level that people expect from computing.”

Another company Inocybe Technologies has come up with a fully unified SDN solution that can be deployed across private or public clouds within seconds. “The platform features a pre-integrated application library for various server and network configurations, as well as integrated cloud and network controllers and automated device discovery that offer end-to-end views of network elements,” said a company statement.

At the same time, the open source community is dedicating its efforts to overcome existing incompatibilities between member platforms. For example, most of their activities will be around the newest version of the protocol, OF 1.3, which deals with advanced network complexities and optimization challenges.

Michael Bushong, VP of technical marketing at Plexxi believes SDN models can be implemented only after a significant amount of preparatory work is done to ensure pathways, protocols, system configurations and other elements are in order. With a strategic enterprise-vendor partnership and simplification of the architecture, it can certainly make life easier for the network administrator.

Undoutedly, the SDN market is nascent at present, but is expected to grow to $3.7 billion by 2016 from an estimated $360 million by the end of 2013, according to research firm IDC. As Michael Bushong, VP of technical marketing at Plexxi points out that with new simplified models by different vendors, the momentum of SDN adoption by enterprises will accelerate in the coming years.