Readiness, Benefits and Barriers: An SDN Progress Report
Survey of U.S. IT Leaders Reveals Strong Progress
As with many emerging technologies that came before, Software-Defined Networking (SDN) has spurred significant debate in the networking industry. In the wake of billion-dollar acquisitions, several industry watchers believe SDN is poised to revolutionize the traditional networking market, while others claim that it is significantly over-hyped.
But when Juniper Networks asked enterprises, we found the truth lies somewhere in between… at least for now.
This month, Juniper worked with an independent market research firm to ask IT leaders at companies in four key U.S. business sectors – government, education, financial services and healthcare – where they are in their SDN readiness. A survey of 400 IT decision makers (ITDMs) found the majority of respondents (53 percent) across these four sectors are aggressive in their plans to adopt SDN. Further, 77 percent believe future networking will almost certainly include SDN technologies. But there was a surprising number of companies with absolutely no future plans to deploy SDN.
SDN Progress Report
Across these four industries, IT leaders reported the potential for SDN is significant and the majority of companies have plans to deploy SDN technology in the future.
Overall, ITDMs gave high marks for their organization’s plans to adopt SDN.
Honor Roll: Just over a quarter of companies (27 percent) said they are completely ready or almost completely ready to adopt SDN – giving themselves an “A” or “B” letter grade.
Of the four industries surveyed, ITDMs in education reported the highest levels of “A” and “B” grades for SDN readiness (32 percent) whereas only 14 percent of IT leaders in government gave their business the same high marks.
Passing grade: In addition, 38 percent of ITDMs graded themselves a “C” for their organization’s SDN readiness noting that they were somewhat ready to adopt.
Some are Moving Fast
We also found that most respondents plan to deploy SDN technologies and that many of them plan to do so in the next year. Seventy-four percent of companies who plan to adopt SDN are planning to do so in the next 12 months.
A Hybrid Future
According to the survey, ITDMs believe software-defined and traditional networks should be complementary. The vast majority (63 percent) said business networks in the next 5 years will be a mix of software-defined and traditional.
I think this stems from companies’ desire to evolve their current networks and workflows, not rip-and-replace for the “next big thing.” Automation will make existing networks easier to manage. Overlay networking will make existing networks more agile. And done right, SDN+high performance networking will make the clouds being built more scalable and resilient.
ITDMs see the biggest opportunity of SDN is improved network performance and efficiency (26 percent), followed by simplified network operations (19 percent) and cost savings on operations (13 percent).
So what are businesses looking for when adopting SDN? The top criteria businesses want when adopting an SDN solution include:
High availability and resiliency (30 percent)
Analytics and reporting (23 percent)
Automation and rapid provisioning (19 percent)
Open source options (12 percent)
Scale (10 percent)
These needs from customers are the exact reason Juniper introduced its MetaFabric architecture so that they had access to a simple, open and smart approach to network architecture.
Despite interest and progress, SDN deployment it is not without its challenges. Following cost (50 percent), ITDMs noted difficulty integrating with existing systems (35 percent), security concerns (34 percent) and lack of skills from existing employees (28 percent) as the top challenges to adoption.
This tells me that while certainly the technology will continue to evolve, those adopting SDN will have to also evolve their teams, their skillsets and how they work to realize the full promise of SDN. This evolution will not be overnight, but we’re excited to see it happen and to partner with companies to help them realize their full SDN potential. To learn more about Juniper’s approach to SDN and how we are working with customers today, visit http://www.juniper.net/us/en/dm/sdn/.