MSPs Need to Prep Now for an SDN Transition

By Mike Vizard  |  Print this article Print
software-defined networking

It's time for MSPs to prepare for the rise of software-defined networking and network virtualization because they stand to gain more than they might lose.

Further driving the adoption of SDN and related technologies will be the rise of internet of things (IoT) deployments. Serro Solutions, for example, is investing in SDN and NFV platforms as a means to network large number of distributed IoT gateways and endpoints.

Nitin Serro, the company's CEO, said that many of those deployments would not be feasible to manage without relying on SDN technologies. The challenge that providers of these solutions will discover, he added, is that many of these IoT solutions will require access to low-latency network services pushed out to the edge of the network—requirements that can't be met by relying on legacy network architectures.

"A lot of people are starting to refer to this as fog computing," said Serro. Regardless of the terminology, he said that managing services at the edge of the network requires a software-defined approach.

Reliance on Managed Services Is Increasing

As next-generation IT environments become more complex, more organizations are going to wind up relying on external providers for networking expertise, said Charles King, principal analyst for Pund-IT Research. "Reliance on managed services is definitely increasing," he added.

The challenge many solution providers will face, however, is that the type of companies that will provide those managed services is expanding. For instance, Telco Systems historically built carrier-grade networking hardware. But with the rise of SDNs, Raanan Tzemach, vice president of product marketing and professional services for Telco Systems, said the company is morphing into a software company that also provides managed services.

Tzemach said that rather than delivering a bunch of isolated network services, Telco Systems is building what is known as virtual customer premise equipment (vCPE), a virtual instance of an open networking platform around which it has built its own management and orchestration (MANO) engine. Via that vCPE, he envisions making a broach range of services available.

"Internally, the hard part for us is turning a hardware company into a software company," Tzemach said.

Just about every solution provider that attempts to become an MSP that depends on some form of SDN service is likely to experience similar issues. Whether these MSPs decide to build the service from the ground up or resell a set of managed services provided by, for example, a carrier or cloud service provider, the amount of physical network hardware being consumed should decline over the next several years.

That transition obviously won't occur overnight. But most solution providers that specialize in network hardware can already see the writing on the wall.


Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has more than 25 years of experience covering IT issues in a career that includes serving as Director of Strategic Content and Editorial Director for Ziff Davis Enterprise.