SDN From The Business Point of View
Rene White, Managing Director, The Chasm Group
The digitization of human culture’s link to the adoption of Software Defined Networks (SDN)
For the last decade an avalanche of sorts has been barreling down hill through our society spreading wider and picking up speed as it goes along. It’s the digitization of everything in our lives.
You name it–there is an app for it, as the cliché goes. The result is a fast-growing percentage of the world population are living lives of information on demand, instant communication, instant orientation and streaming hi-def video. It’s global. It’s mobile. It’s always on.
Digitization is a consumer phenomenon AND it’s a business transformer as people blur the lines between their work lives and personal lives. For sure, it’s about Internet gaming, tweeting, streaming videos and Facetime. But it’s also about revolutionizing business — like faster new drug discoveries, producing movies more efficiently, delivering enterprise IT cheaper, to name just a few.
A closer look reveals the specific game changer for networks and it can be summarized in one word: ‘collaboration’ — the desire to interact with each other on everything digital in our lives using content in the Cloud and over the Internet. Of specific relevancy to you reading this column, the collaboration around our digital work and personal lives is already contributing to east-west network traffic running at 10X the volume of north-south traffic.
And we are only at the beginning of this trend. As we all know, content, services, apps, devices and users interacting with it all will continue to grow at exponential rates. So as builders and providers of networks and the technology that underpins them, how does this macro trend touch your world? What will networks need to support in the future? How imminent is action on your part necessary to take advantage of it?
If the digitization of human culture was just about a lot more information and people’s access to it, more efficient networks would suffice. That is happening but it’s evolutionary. More importantly, people collaborating with each other using Cloud-based apps and content, 24 hours a day, all around the globe is revolutionary.
It is this collaboration that will accelerate the need for Software Defined Networks. Collaboration activity will demand networks deliver new levels of speed-to-deployment, low latency, flexibility, programmability, intelligence and even predictability. These network attributes will test the extensibility limits of current architectures and at the highest end of scalability and flexibility demands will necessitate the need to rethink network architectures using SDN technology.
We at The Chasm Group have watched generations of technology categories evolve and succumb to disintermediation when a new technology approach is advantaged over the old. Current network architectures have had a good and long run. And they won’t be going away soon. In fact we see extended relevance of today’s network architecture through higher efficiency enabled by technology innovations like Fabric.
But soon, sooner than you may think, SDN’s will be a preferred way fast growing new services will be delivered and managed. And SDN’s will be the area of fastest growth for many progressive service providers.
That’s why now is the time to get serious about SDN.
For equipment vendors — it means developing a coherent strategy for SDN and sorting out your company’s unique value proposition.
For service providers — it’s evaluating vendor approaches to SDN, validating what use cases will be tangible and relevant to your customers, launching SDN trials to get your feet wet and investigating what architectural design will make the most sense for sustained advantage to your network.
For end-customers — it’s having a clear business vision for the services you want to consume and business cases SDN capability started will fit into your data center road map.
So time to grab your snowshoes and get in front of this avalanche.
(Note: special acknowledge to The Chasm Group’s Founder Emeritus, Geoffrey Moore, who has pioneered the firm’s thinking around digitization of our culture, Systems of Engagement that will need to support it and what it means to the technology industry.)
Rene White can be reached at: