According to SDxCentral’s 2015 Special Report: Network Virtualization in the Data Center, there are 10 vendors that have registered measurable deployments in the network virtualization arena – but how many will still be competing by this time next year?
The report cites VMware, Cisco, Juniper Networks, and Nuage Networks as the “Big Four” in the network virtualization space, with the most installations and customers for network virtualization. (Other market research puts Cisco ahead of VMware as number 1.) The next six vendors, in order, are Big Switch Networks, HP, IBM, PLUMgrid, Midokura, and Pluribus Networks.
While VMware, Cisco, and Juniper owe their presence in network virtualization largely to acquisitions, and Nuage is a division of Alcatel-Lucent, the other six vendors could be faced with significant pressure to gain customers quickly, be acquired, or face extinction, according to SDxCentral VP of Research and Content Scott Raynovich.
“With the Big Four leading the charge in data center virtualization, the pressure for startups to get deals done or merge with larger partners is going to be intense in 2016,” says Raynovich. “I foresee significant consolidation.”
The report highlights the various use cases among the Big Four. VMware touts NSX‘s ability to provide micro-segmentation and distributed firewalls, while Cisco’s ACI is being used to provision e-learning offerings at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. On the service provider side, Juniper Networks’ Contrail is being used by AT&T for the service provider’s SDN implementation. CenturyLink has tapped Nuage as one of the vendors in its Programmable Services Backbone (PSB) network architecture.
With the continued proliferation of devices, apps, and users, network virtualization can provide flexible network resources to keep up with demand while reducing costs with off-the-shelf hardware, according to our report.
It can also provide the flexibility that’s required to support applications as they move from legacy client-server models to a software-as-a-service (SaaS) format. Network virtualization also integrates and aligns a network with the virtualized storage and compute resources that it’s connecting.
While the field could shrink, deployments will continue to ramp up as proof-of-concept trials are completed. When asked to rank how important it is to find a network virtualization solution in the next two to five years, 88 percent of the respondents in the Network Virtualization survey said it was “important” or “mission critical.”
NV by the Numbers
In terms of who is using network virtualization, cloud service providers are the leading adopters, with 75 percent saying in the survey that they already have network virtualization in place. The other 25 percent say they’ll add network virtualization in the next 18 to 24 months.
Among service providers, 68 percent of the survey respondents said they are using network virtualization in their networks today. By contrast, 41 percent were using it last year.
Half of the large enterprises in the survey said they had deployed network virtualization, while the other half is in the planning stages. Small-to-midsized businesses lag in terms of adoption, with only 34 percent using network virtualization.
For the last two years, “flexibility” was cited as the biggest benefit for deploying network virtualization. This year, 77 percent of those surveyed chose “flexibility” as the top motivation. One difference this year is that 68 percent of the respondents chose “scalability” as the second biggest benefit; “operational cost savings” was the runner-up last year.
This year, 52 percent cited “operational cost savings” while “cost savings” came in fourth at 31 percent.