SDN a game changer but slow out of the gate, survey shows

A recent survey of CIOs indicates that the adoption of software defined networking will be ‘vastly different and slower’ than expected.

Much-hyped in the networking and virtualization industries, software-defined networking opens up routers and switches that once were closed to allow for optimizing their performance within a network.

The process starts with separating the control plane from the data plane within the equipment and moves network intelligence about how to handle traffic from the devices to a central controller.

While SDN has the potential to enable great savings, it has been slow to take off in the government market. And a recent survey by financial firm Piper Jaffray indicates that sluggish adoption rate can be seen across industries.

"While we do not discount the fact that SDN will likely change the traditional IT hardware landscape as we know it, we believe adoption, and ultimately deployment will be vastly different and slower than expected," the company said in its fourth annual CIO Survey.

The firm surveyed 112 CIOs across different industries on a variety of subjects, resulting in a 39-page report touching on budgeting, spending and technology trends.

On the SDN trend, only 12 percent of respondents indicated they planned on using SDN technology this year, with 54 percent saying they had no such plans and 34 percent saying they were still evaluating it.

"Given the infancy of SDN and lack of deployments on which to base a concrete opinion, we believe it is too early to speculate on the actual impact, uptake rate, and most importantly the winners and losers of this major market transition," the report stated.

The report included some other contrarian comments, especially concerning the positioning of traditional networking vendors such as Cisco Systems Inc. in the face of the SDN threat to their bread-and-butter product lines.

Piper Jaffray, however, begged to differ, with a warning caveat.

"Legacy vendors such as Cisco and Juniper seem to be taking a proactive approach to SDN, leading us to believe 1) the technology is real and here to stay and 2) represents a sizeable risk to traditional high-margin enterprise hardware business models."

In fact, of the 30 respondents who said they were planning on using SDN this year, 29 supplied their vendor of choice, and some three-quarters of those were going with Cisco.

"What we saw is that Cisco was the most widely selected vendor, with 77 percent of respondents indicating that they planned to work with the company, followed by VMware/Nicera at 37 percent and Juniper at 33 percent," Piper Jaffray said. "In general, we don't see this as surprising given Cisco and Juniper [represent] two of the most preferred vendors in networking and VMware [is] the primary vendor of virtualization."

This article originally appeared on Virtualization Review, a sister site to GCN.

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