SDN Solution Provider: A Role Apt to Evolve Over Time

By Michael Vizard  |  Print this article Print
SDN solution provider

ANALYSIS: Network solution providers should be patient as they start planning their SDN strategies. It's still early days for the emerging technology.

SDN Providers on the Acquisition Hunt

SDNs are also influencing multibillion-dollar IT industry mergers. At the recent EMC World 2016 conference, Dell CEO Michael Dell told EMC CEO Joe Tucci that one of the best things that EMC did was to acquire Nicira in 2014 and then fold it into its VMware subsidiary. Originally designed for carrier networks, the software Nicira developed is now a foundational component of VMware's software-defined data center strategy.

"One of the most remarkable acquisitions I've seen within EMC has been Nicera," said Dell. "What it allows you to do is simplify the hardware at the network layer. It allows you to put network functions in software."

Now known as VMware NSX software, Dell said it's equally important that there is currently an ecosystem of companies building additional products and services on top of NSX.

However, some contend that the shift to SDN will start with the wide-area network before working its way back into the data center.

"SD-WANs will be a $6 billion market," said John Vincenzo, chief marketing officer for Silver Peak Systems, a provider of SD-WAN gateways. "The opportunity to deliver managed services across those SD-WANs is definitely there."

In the not-too-distant future, just about everything will be defined by software. At the recent Citrix Synergy 2016 conference, Abhishek Chauhan, CTO for the company's cloud networking group, told attendees that SDNs herald the rise of always-on connectivity.

To prove that point, Chauhan cut the network cables through which a Microsoft Skype for Business video conference was being delivered. That session then automatically reconnected to a wireless network in a way that was seamless to the participants in the video conference.

The ultimate goal is to build software-defined data centers. But that can only really be achieved when the network through which software-defined servers and storage will be accessed becomes software-defined.

"There are a lot of pilots," said Chris Chute, an industry analyst with IDC. "There's definitely a sense of urgency."

Right now, those pilots span everything from carrier networks to the data center. In fact, it's conceivable that given the more limited scope of their projects, SDNs will show up in the data center before they are widely deployed by carriers.

The challenge and opportunity facing networking solution providers now is to use their expertise to first turn all those pilots into full-blown IT projects deployed in production environments and then craft a broad range of managed services that should be more cost-effective to deliver than ever before.

Michael Vizard has been covering IT issues in the enterprise for more than 25 years as an editor and columnist for publications such as InfoWorld, eWEEK, Baseline, CRN, ComputerWorld and Digital Review.