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Software-defined networking: Buzzword or breakout?

January 14, 2015
By Vanessa Ulrich

There’s a cycle with any innovation as it starts to catch on. First people don’t know what it is, then they do but are hesitant to try it, then they realize they won’t be competitive anymore if they don’t try it, and finally the new trend becomes widespread. Software-defined networking (SDN) is one trend that seems likely to break through the first phase of this process in 2015. SDN is, in the most basic of terms, a way to optimize network speed and efficiency by separating the part of the network that forwards information from the part that controls and makes decisions. Never heard of it? You're not alone.

Thirty-seven percent of respondents to a study by a UK tech publication, Computing, said they were unaware or vaguely aware of SDN.

Like cloud 2-3 years ago and mobility years before that, SDN likely isn't at the top of CIOs’ priority lists yet.  IT leaders who responded to TEKsystems’ 2015 IT Forecast survey ranked virtualization and software-defined networks as the 7th most impactful trend to their organization, out of a ranking of 13 areas.

A survey by Network Instruments found 41 percent of IT managers say they’ll ride out the SDN hype, with a further 47 percent reporting no plans to adopt SDN. Only 12 percent reported they plan to adopt it ASAP.

But SDN has garnered a lot of love in the press over the past few months, including a Wall Street Journal interview with Verizon’s Enterprise Solutions CIO, Ajay Waghray, and an InformationWeek column from Jonathan Davidson of Juniper Networks.

Davidson predicts SDN’s hype will only continue to grow this year, but we will also see more adopters, more varied ways of using SDN to provide business value, and more integration with network security components.

As part of TEKsystems’ public relations team, Vanessa Ulrich reads everything she can about the technology industry and emerging trends. Vanessa blogs about where technology and society collide, giving context and commentary to top news stories. You can reach her with questions and comments @vanessulr via Twitter.


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