Blog post

Real-World SDN

By Andrew Lerner | October 27, 2014 | 0 Comments

SecuritySDNNetworkingJust Published

We just published “real-world” SDN research, which describes mainstream enterprise running SDN in their environments. This is not the hyper-scale web guys like Google, Facebook, Amazon or even service-providers. This research describes (via use-cases) how and what mainstream enterprise are doing with respect to SDN.

Beyond the Hype: SDN Delivers Real-World Benefits in Mainstream Enterprises
Summary: Network decision makers must strategize for the networking paradigm shift represented by SDN. This research identifies mainstream organizations that have achieved increased agility, cost savings and/or improved security using SDN-based technologies.

In total, we interviewed between 2 and 3 dozen customers that had deployed SDN in various segments of the network, including the data center, user access layer and WAN. In the end, we spoke with folks using 11 different vendors (Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, HP, Big Switch, VMware, Microsoft, Viptela, Plexxi, OpenDaylight, and NEC). For publication, we specifically highlight four use cases that carry the most relevance to mainstream Gartner clients, including:

  1. A US government agency using SDN to create a self-service development cloud.
  2. A consulting/services firm that needed to upgrade and expand its monitoring network in a cost-effective manner.
  3. A logistics company that wanted to reduce opex, enable multi-tenancy and improve agility.
  4. A regional bank that wanted to improve its intra-data-center security posture without breaking the bank (pun intended).

Overall, there are some nuggets to take away, including

  • Frankly, not a lot of mainstream folks are doing SDN yet. In fact, we estimate there are only between 500 and 1,000 mainstream deployments of SDN globally.
  • Roughly half of today’s SDN deployments are from vendors that are not in the top five in switching revenue, including NEC and VMware.
  • The biggest challenge to date has been organizational/cultural, not technology (handoff to operations has been particularly difficult).

Regards, Andrew

Special Thanks to: David C, Matt R, Rafael, Steve B, Tanizawa-san, Patrick W, Kanuj, Sam, Ramon, Luc A, Sam G, John S, Mike E, Margaret C, Jeff D, Ben O, Nick, and several others who contributed their time.

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