Executive Viewpoint 2016 Prediction: Pica8 – SDN Gets Real for Data Centers and the Enterprise
Service providers are enthusiastically adopting SDN because the benefits are undeniable, and because they have the skills and organizational breadth to bring developers to the table and help craft solutions. Yet enterprises and data center operators have only been sniffing around SDN, citing valid concerns over complexity and do-it-yourself integration. These customers like the idea of building a custom network to meet their unique needs, but they don’t want to engage in a science project in order to build and implement that network.
2016 will be the year where SDN will deliver on its promise of customization for the data center and enterprise. What’s driving this is the emergence of applications available from places like HP’s App Store, and distributors/integrators like SYNNEX offering turnkey SDN configuration services with all the components needed. With pre-integrated applications offered, or delivered like applications for smart devices, enterprises and data centers have the real ability to easily and cost-effectively streamline their operations with policy-based networking.
SDN isn’t just a matter of using APIs. APIs offer flexibility and a degree of openness, which even Cisco uses to offer their version of “open” SDN solutions. I think the real value of SDN is the idea of an open platform, were customers pick the elements of a solution from an ecosystem, delivering a network that is customized for each specific environment. But the customer doesn’t have to build it. Instead, customers can pick and choose the apps they want in their networks and then dial up a solution from the SDN ecosystem. This is what enterprise customers tell us they want. SDN enables a policy-driven network and through ecosystems and system integrators, data center operators and enterprise customers can have an alternative to “one size fits all” solutions from incumbent vendors.
I see enterprise use of SDN falling into two camps: Data Center and Enterprise Campus LAN. The Data Center camp is already seeing some adoption now and 2016 will be the tipping point, with SDN apps to extend high availability and disaster recovery. Already, there are Overlay and DR as a Service (DRaaS) apps available, along with apps for server configuration management, cloud service automation and security, among others.
On the Campus LAN side, where every IT team is stretched thin, SDN can be the next big thing in driving down unplanned downtime and really helping smaller teams scale. We have applications like Elbrys Networks’ app for Wi-Fi management and ECODE Networks’ app for VPN provisioning. There are more than 40 SDN apps now available from the HP SDN App Store alone.
With a large ecosystem of vendors offering everything from white box and brite box switches to network operating systems and applications, it’s time for the SDN space to “get real” and hit critical mass for network managers and enterprise data centers. The missing link was a service and solution delivery model from partners that IT managers can trust. 2015 has been the year to plant the seeds for integrators to lead this transformation, and 2016 will see these solutions getting real attention.