Over the last 18 months, I have seen a lot of positive changes relative to the adoption of SDN by enterprise IT organizations. For example, the general awareness is notably higher today than it was 18 months ago, and today there are more documented use cases than there had been. Other positive changes include that today a handful of vendors are shipping SDN products and the OpenFlow protocol is much more functional than it was 18 months ago.
Unfortunately, the market research that I recently conducted highlights the fact that the vast majority of IT organizations are still on the SDN sidelines. While lots of enterprise IT organizations are analyzing SDN in general and vendors’ SDN offerings in particular, very few organizations currently have SDN running either in production or in a lab environment.
In order to encourage IT organizations to move off the sidelines and engage in active conversations with SDN vendors, I have created a mock RFI (request for information). The primary focus of this document is vendors who alone or with partners provide SDN applications, controllers, and infrastructure such as switches and routers. Since RFIs generally are less formal and rigorous than RFPs (requests for proposals), the document is intentionally lightweight. For example, the RFI doesn’t assume that detailed designs will be provided nor detailed pricing requested. The lightweight nature of the RFI is intended to minimize the overhead for both enterprise IT organizations and SDN vendors.
The RFI starts with a discussion of the type of process-related information that IT organizations should include as part of the conversation that they have with SDN vendors. This includes the organization’s goals, guidelines and timetable. The remaining sections of the RFI focus on key areas such as the overall solution architecture, the SDN controller, the SDN infrastructure, management, and security
I assume that most enterprise IT organizations will modify the RFI for use in their environment. For example, assume that one of the SDN use cases that is of interest to an IT organization is having applications dynamically signal the network for the types of services that they require. If that is the case, I expect that the IT organization will modify the solution architecture section of the RFI to focus on how the vendor’s solution architecture enables applications to dynamically signal the network. Analogously, I expect that that IT organization will modify the SDN infrastructure section to focus on how the southbound protocols that the vendor supports enable applications to dynamically signal the network.
I am going to be participating in a webinar that delves into the state of SDN, the mock RFI, and HP’s point of view and solution overview. The webinar is on January 9 from 10:30 a.m. PT to 11:30 PT. You can register for the webinar here.