Survey shows 1 in 5 enterprises use software-defined networks

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Although people have been talking about software-defined networking (SDN) for about three years now, use cases don’t come to light every day. But a new survey suggests that SDN isn’t just for lab experiments; out of 500 enterprise IT decision-makers, roughly one in five are using SDN now.

Commissioned by Brocade — one of many SDN market contenders — researchers from Vanson Bourne checked in with a total of 1,750 IT people in France, Germany, North America and the United Kingdom earlier this summer. The SDN findings were among the most interesting.

The tricky part is what exactly respondents had in mind when they said they are using SDN technology now. There has been no shortage of SDN washing, as Guru Parulkar mentioned at the Open Networking Summit in April, leaving some technical people unsure of what SDN can do. That could be changing, though, as developers have kept their heads down, standardizing controller code and other SDN components in the vendor-led OpenDaylight Project.

But regardless of definition, lots more companies seem to see opportunities on the horizon with SDN: around 55 percent are evaluating SDN now or plan to do so within the next couple of years, according to the survey. Surely that figure accounts for the high level of interest in SDN among mobile carriers, which my colleague Stacey Higginbotham wrote about last week.

Respondents said they could derive all sorts of benefits with SDN, from lower capital expenditures to higher productivity.

SDN Brocade survey

Whether all their hopes and dreams will be actually realized by SDN is something else entirely, of course.

But as starry-eyed IT people keep thinking big about what might be possible with SDN, there’s plenty room for peddling proprietary products — applications on top of the OpenDaylight controller are a likely category — and venture capitalists haven’t yet grown tired of making SDN investments. And that means the drumbeat of product announcements we see now should continue for another couple of years, gearing up for a projected global SDN market value of $2.45 billion by 2018, according to a February 2018 GigaOM Research report (subscription required).

Feature image courtesy of Flickr user dinatompel.

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