SDNCentral’s 2013 Kick-Off – More $1B Acquisitions?

SDNCentral's 2013 Kick-Off - More $1B Acquisitions

As we breathe a temporary sigh of relief at avoiding The Fiscal Cliff for now, and  start making good on our New Year resolutions, we thought we’d take a look back at how 2012 fared for both SDN and SDNCentral, and also take a look forward into 2013–what’s in store for SDN and SDNCentral members.

2012 A Retrospective

2012 was the year of the “what” for SDN, with many folks asking “what is OpenFlow” and “what is SDN?” We were optimistic about SDN uptake in 2012 when we ran our SDN educational training event concurrent with the RSA Conference in February, but the growth definitely surprised us. Those same questions certainly flew fast and furious right after Nicira was snapped up by VMware for $1.26B. All of a sudden, the networking and general technology world became enamored with SDN. At SDNCentral, we certainly felt that huge wave hit as our traffic spiked and continued to grow after that major event. As those on the early SDN bandwagon such as IBM and HP continued to announce SDN products, and startup upon startup announced financing, the next popular question became “should I join an SDN startup?

That momentum didn’t slow down as 2012 came to a close with acquisitions of Vyatta by Brocade, Cariden by Cisco and Contrail by Juniper. With the explosion of all things SDN, and increased SDN washing by many vendors, the market became quite confusing. Meanwhile, at SDNCentral, we continued investing in our backend infrastructure and brought on extra help to keep the site growing. We also expanded the reach of our directory and SDN resources on the site–expanding product and services listings, adding APIs and extending technology coverage.

Despite all the hype around SDN and OpenFlow, it’s still clear to us that SDN is still early. When Matt and I presented at TEC at the end of 2012, we shared that SDN looks more like an enterprise software market than a networking equipment market. Most of the early SDN deployments are customized deployments and we simply don’t have enough repeatable product sales with cookie-cutter use-cases yet. The Northbound APIs aren’t standardized (de facto or otherwise), equipment is still mostly stuck at OpenFlow 1.0 (and has been for almost 2 years now), vendor implementations differ in feature support and behavior and standardized SDN frameworks (beyond just OpenFlow) aren’t well-formed.

2013 Looking Ahead at SDNCentral

For 2013, I think the question is going to be “how”, as in “how can I leverage SDN in my business”. A relevant question for both networking vendors, as well as end-users. And one that we have some familiarity with because of our work at our sister companies (Wiretap Ventures and Wiretap Labs), helping both vendors and end-users understand what SDN means for their businesses and what aspects of SDN can be leveraged to solve their challenges today. In 2013, we expect to see some custom SDN deployments, focused around programmatic and automation APIs. Many of these will be for datacenter cloud roll-outs (multi-tenant private networks), but we are anticipating some early proof-of-concept deployments as well in the WAN and enterprise access layer.

Regardless, we’re surprised and happy at the growth of SDNCentral–we would never have imagined growing to over 50K page views a month in less than a year! And we’re continuing to introduce services (both free and compensated) to continue to service the community. With the growth in membership, we’re finding it harder to handle all the queries ourselves (even with the assistance of our dedicated community manager, Jocelyn), and so we invested in more self-service capabilities over the break. Here’s a breakdown of the ways the community can engage with the site:

Throughout 2013, we’ll continually find ways to better serve the community and we encourage you to reach out to us and provide feedback.

So, down to the $1B question: will there be another $1B acquisition in the SDN space? Hard to say, but there are certainly some networking companies that have built up sufficient momentum to be on the path to either an IPO or acquisition this year. And BTW, in 2013, every networking company is an SDN company.

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