SDN's benefits are wide reaching and include flexibility, cost savings, scalability, service innovation and support for the cloud, according to a recent poll on The New IP.
In fact, readers had so much trouble choosing from the list of software-defined networking (SDN) benefits in our poll that 44% voted for "All of the above" when trying to decide between the aforementioned benefits.
Much has been written about the benefits and challenges of SDN and network functions virtualization (NFV), but a new Heavy Reading survey of global service providers, sponsored by Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD), shows that it's still not high priority. In fact, of those service providers surveyed, 57% of the 106 responses, said that they know SDN is important but that it's not an immediate priority. Only 27% said it was "critical to our business success" and high priority.
In The New IP poll of SDN benefits, flexibility took second place with 20%, followed by service innovation with 12%. Flexibility and innovation are certainly benefits of SDN -- and NFV as well.
At the Big Telecom Event in Chicago, Jared Wray, senior vice president of platforms, CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL), spoke about the importance of automation, programmability and accessibility -- all of which are enabled by SDN and NFV -- in order to spur innovation and speed. The goal is to enable customers and partners to innovate and develop quickly using APIs, and to provide an on-demand experience, he said. (See CenturyLink's Three Tenets of Transformation.)
Cost savings took fourth place in the poll with 10% -- not surprising since according to the Heavy Reading survey, lack of a clearly defined business case topped the list (at 28%), followed closely by projected costs of deployment (at 27%).
"Support for the cloud" came in last on the poll with only 5% of the vote, which could be as a result of the industry's argument that "cloud computing isn't what network operators do," as noted by Tom Nolle, president, CIMI Corp. , in his blog on The New IP this week. (See In the Clouds: New Services for NFV & SDN.)
However, as Nolle said in his blog, there is a huge opportunity for service providers in the cloud space -- in connecting cloud elements together, or intra-cloud services. "There are no incumbent providers for intra-cloud. There's no preferred protocol for it either, no current pricing structure, no established SLAs and no vendors have a lock on the space," he wrote. "This is a wide-open field and I think it could generate a boatload of revenue, though the revenue would be buried in cloud computing and NFV service sales." (See In the Clouds: New Services for NFV & SDN.)
Perhaps, Roz Roseboro, senior analyst at Heavy Reading, best summed up the big-picture challenge of SDN and NFV in a recent blog when she wrote, "Making the connection between technology and business benefits will be a key challenge for the industry as we move forward." (See Building Momentum for the New IP.)
For our next poll, I thought I'd see how New IP readers stack up against service providers on some of these latest NFV and SDN survey results. Check out our SDN & NFV Urgency Meter poll and vote today. (See SDN & NFV Urgency Meter.)
— Elizabeth Miller Coyne, Editor, The New IP