A survey released today by Juniper Networks found companies on both sides of the fence: those who see potential for software-defined networking (SDN) to transform the traditional market, and those who think the reality won’t live up to the hype.
Representing the latter camp, about 48 percent of the companies polled said they still have no SDN plans.
Working with an independent market research firm, Juniper talked to 400 IT people in government, financial services, healthcare, and education. Of those who were planning to deploy SDN, 74 percent said they aim to do so within the next 12 months. However, only 27 percent of Juniper’s respondents said they are completely or almost completely ready to integrate SDN.
A recent Infonetics survey found a similar aggressiveness, with most respondents saying they were conducting data-center SDN lab trials or planning on doing so within the year. Forty-five percent aimed to have SDN in live production in the data center for 2015, and that number jumped to 87 percent by 2016.
This is not to say companies will abandon traditional methods for SDN — 63 percent said SDN and traditional networks will co-exist for five years.
Juniper sees this as a nod to the fact that companies aren’t looking to replace what works for what’s new, but rather to evolve current networks and workflows. Those polled note that SDN’s top benefit would be improved network performance and efficiency (26 percent), among several other factors such as cost savings, increased agility, and better security.
In terms of what IT operators want from SDN, high availability and resiliency ranked most important among those polled at 30 percent, with analytics and reporting not far behind at 23 percent. Other important factors included automation and rapid provisioning, open source options, and scalability.
Although Juniper’s survey isn’t short of supporters and believers, no one was saying SDN doesn’t have obstacles to overcome. IT decision makers cited cost as their biggest concern (50 percent), but difficult integrating with current systems (35 percent) was also marked as a major challenge, as was security (34 percent). Another point of worry was that employees may not catch on to SDN so quickly, a concern for 28 percent of those polled.
As Cliff Grossner, directing analyst at Infonetics, noted in a prepared statement, “There’s still some work to do on the part of SDN vendors. Expectations for SDN are clear, but there are still serious concerns about the maturity of the technology and the business case.”