Musings from the Cold Aisle
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Musings from the Cold Aisle
Takeaways from a Cloud and SDN Survey (…ok so now what?)
Feb 18, 2014

Takeaways from a Cloud and SDN Survey (…ok so now what?)


Last week, I got to participate in a GigaOM Research webinar where I sat on a virtual panel (along with Greg Ferro, Nick Lippis and moderated by David Linthicum) discussing the results of a recent cloud, SDN and networking survey.  The survey itself had lots of great information, and I would highly recommend checking out the webinar to absorb the entire discussion. But for those without the extra time to spare, here’s a quick summary.


The survey itself featured responses from more than 250 medium to large-sized (2,500 or more employees) enterprise companies.  These were spread fairly evenly across different industry verticals. Every respondent claimed to be knowledgeable about networking, with the majority describing IT perception within their company as strategic to their business.  With this sample slice, the discussion revealed a few interesting (and in some cases surprising) takeaways:


  • There’s no stopping the “SDN train.”  A whopping 20.6% of respondents said they already had SDN in production, while nearly another 30% had plans to adopt SDN within two years.  Although it’s likely many of these are smaller deployments within a larger infrastructure, it’s still a surprisingly high number, and illustrates the need for new approaches to deal with networking complexity and change management.
  • As a follow up to the first takeaway, increasing IT agility and improving operational efficiency were by far the primary drivers for this rate of adoption.  Given the current stampede to the cloud, and primary use cases being targeted at cloud data centers, this is not surprising.
  • ROI timeframes for networking purchases are getting shorter and shorter.  While in the past companies may have tried to stretch their networking investments to 7 or more years, the survey respondents are now expecting to realize their ROI in less than five years and, in some cases, as little as two years.

Definitely some interesting responses.  So now what?  As a networking professional, what (if anything) should I be looking to do?  Here are three steps you can take today to get you going:


  1. Define your automation strategy.  I wrote about this last week; the one thing we consistently hear from our customers is that the network is a bottleneck.  Automation is a way to get past this and, in many ways, is a precursor to how the network will behave in a software-driven world.  And remember, it’s not just about automating network configurations through scripting (although that is important)—it’s also about automating the operational processes of the network.
  2. Do a cost/benefit analysis for your applications and the cloud.  The cloud is great and everyone wants the agility it affords.  But sometimes, it makes more sense to build your own cloud data center rather than rely on the public cloud to achieve this agility.  In fact, most companies are doing a combination of public and private—almost half of respondents are already using cloud services today, with another 10% starting deployment within a year.  So whether it’s cost, security, end-user experience, in-house expertise or culture, be sure you understand what your guiding principles are for these decisions.
  3. It’s time to get educated.  Even though 20.6% of respondents said they have SDN in production, more than 40% also said they were unfamiliar with overlay networking.  On top of that, the respondents are looking at networking vendors to provide this education, with 84% saying this is an important factor when evaluating potential partners.  So find your trusted supplier and use it as an opportunity to learn how SDN can help your business.