Survey: SDN benefits unclear to enterprise network managers

Organizations face many challenges as they work to manage and transition their data center networks to support emerging IT trends. Right now, the biggest impact on networking in the data center is the strong adoption of server virtualization; the networking industry has struggled to deliver products that rapidly, easily, and securely support the creation and migration of virtual machines (VMs) on any server at any place in the network. The network organization also must support the ongoing convergence of data center networks (data and storage) and data center operations (network, server, and storage teams). Other significant IT trends that impact the network include the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) movement, ever-expanding security trends, the migration of applications to the cloud, Software as a Service (SaaS), and continuous data center availability.

This report, based on a recent survey of network and IT managers, highlights the key trends and challenges facing IT/network managers with regards to the data center network. Software-defined networking (SDN) promises to make the network more flexible, easier to manage, and more secure. However, most IT managers are currently unclear on the business value of SDN in general and OpenFlow specifically. IT managers face additional challenges in planning for network security, delivering efficient network management, and obtaining the necessary training to implement new network technologies like SDN.

Sample survey findings include:

  • Currently only 15 percent of organizations have deployed or are in pilot with SDN.
  • Almost half of the survey’s respondents find it difficult to understand and articulate how SDN technologies will improve networking in their organization.
  • There is still very little support for OpenFlow; only 11 percent of organizations are using or trialing OpenFlow.