What’s next for software-defined networks this year?

By: Jitendra Gupta, Sales Head- Networking, Avaya India and SAARC
The year 2016 is going to be a key one for Software-Defined Networks (SDN) across the globe. Large government and enterprise organizations are moving from being late adopters of technology to being at the forefront of implementing new technologies. SDN is not something that you can turn on overnight – it is a journey that involves different technology aspects. The journey has already been started by many organizations globally and 2016 is expected to be the year where maximum acceleration in the SDN adoption take place.

Majority of enterprises want mobility, security, and the ability to launch applications and services either to their customers or their employees almost faster than the speed of business. Further, challenges such as new services, pricing models and automation are becoming aggressive in regards with the way enterprises operate and hence the demand for increased levels of agility and competitiveness have affected organizational structures. Only a truly dynamic IT infrastructure will close this gap, specifically networking, the component that has been lagging the longest, must dramatically change in order to adapt to the new business norm. Networking must be able to accommodate constantly changing traffic patterns, provide higher availability driven by on-demand services, and deliver enhanced levels of integration between infrastructure and applications. According to a research report by IDC, enterprise networking will constitute the biggest share of the total IT infrastructure market in India, with its revenue touching $944 million in 2015. The report further states that with the increased focus on mobility and big data activities in India, SDN is being discussed and adopted by Indian enterprises.

The key trends driving SDN adoption are simplification and the ability to respond quickly to changing business requirements – you can’t wait six months for a new service to be deployed, it needs to be done immediately. The need to extend new services and applications to new sites quickly and easily, combined with trends like Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and Internet of Things (IoT) IOT integration are going to accelerate SDN adoption.

The increasing volume of data and bandwidth utilization from the burgeoning number of Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and “smart,” connected devices such as healthcare devices, home security systems and appliances, vending machines, check-out stands, etc. will drive traditional networks to the breaking point. Mesh topologies and Fabric-based technologies will become increasingly attractive as the answer for cost-effective solutions that can accommodate the capacity needed and flexibility required for the constant changes in network traffic. Decades of client server architectures are coming to an end.
Using fabric-based networking technology, companies are starting to win back control of their networks. Fabric Networks are inherently simpler – with a single protocol to manage.

They support rapid application and service deployment, with changes only required once at the edge of the network. This in turn reduces the need for multiple manual interventions to different network elements, which are error-prone, time-consuming and costly. Fabric networking can also significantly reduce recovery time in the event of the failure of a network element or device.

Legacy networking technology was designed decades ago and is saddled with unnecessary complexity and protocols- an approach that doesn’t work in today’s application-driven environment. SDN and peripheral developments are fundamentally altering the value network of the industry as value creation moves from traditional networking products to innovative, agile, software solutions.

The key vertical sectors leading SDN adoption are service providers, financial institutions and government organizations, closely followed by healthcare and education. These sectors are at the forefront of adoption as they have multiple campuses, dynamic requirements and a constant need to improve mobility and deliver new applications and services. However, taking full advantage of SDN requires a non-traditional approach and different skills in the IT organization.

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