Infonetics survey shows 87% of businesses intend to have SDN live in the data center by 2016 in North America

Infonetics Research released excerpts from its 2014 SDN Strategies: North American Enterprise Survey, which analyzes the trends and assesses the needs of corporate private-network businesses deploying software-defined networking (SDN) in their data centers and campus LANs. 

Kim Peinado of Infonetics clarifies the survey results- it is not a forecast!

“We surveyed businesses about their plans and this is what they reported to us. It’s not Infonetics predicting 87% of medium and large businesses planning to have SDN live in the data center by 2016 – it’s businesses we contacted TELLING us that.”


.    Infonetics’ enterprise respondents are expanding the number of data center sites and LAN sites they operate over the next 2 years and are investing significant capital on servers and LAN Ethernet switching equipment 

.    A majority of survey respondents are currently conducting data center SDN lab trials or will do so this year; 45% are planning to have SDN in live production in the data center in 2015, growing to 87% in 2016 o    Respondents’ plans for LAN SDN are nearly identical to their data center plans 

.    Among respondents, the top drivers for deploying SDN are improving management capabilities and improving application performance, while potential network interruptions and interoperability with existing network equipment are the leading barriers 

.    Meanwhile, enabling hybrid cloud is dead last on the list of drivers, a sign that SDN vendors have some work to do in educating enterprises that SDN can be an important enabler of hybrid cloud architectures 

.    On average, 17% of respondents’ data center Ethernet switch ports are on bare metal switches, and only 21% of those are in-use for SDN 

.    Nearly ¼ of businesses surveyed are ready to consider non-traditional network vendors for their SDN applications and orchestration software 



  For its 42-page SDN enterprise survey, Infonetics interviewed 101 purchase-decision makers at medium and large North American organizations that are implementing software-defined networks (SDNs) now or planning to evaluate SDNs by the end of 2015. The survey provides new data on how the enterprise SDN market is evolving, including insights on the intent of corporate private network buyers to help vendors determine how to invest in product development and position their products in the marketplace. The study delves into deployment drivers and barriers, rollout plans, applications, use cases, vendors installed and under evaluation, and top rated venors.

Analyst Comments:

“Software-defined networking (SDN) spells opportunity for existing and new vendors, and the time to act is now. The leaders in the SDN market serving the enterprise will be solidified during the next two years as lab trials give way to live production deployments in 2015 and significant growth by 2016. The timelines for businesses moving from lab trials to live production for the data center and LAN are almost identical,” notes Cliff Grossner, Ph.D., directing analyst for data center, cloud, and SDN at Infonetics Research. Continues Grossner:

“There’s still some work to do on the part of SDN vendors. Expectations for SDN are clear, but there are still serious concerns about the maturity of the technology and the business case. Vendors need to work with their lead enterprise customers to complete lab trials and provide public demonstrations of success.” 

Email from Cliff Grossner received July 29, 2014:

As Kimberly said, we are reporting data shared with us by North American enterprises, not making our own prediction.

The caveats that I would add 1) actual deployments may occur slower that intended, and 2) having SDN live in the DC does not mean that ALL of the network in the DC is SDN.

My interpretation of the result is that after completing the lab and production trials, some portion of the DC network will go in-use for SDN by the survey respondents.

One also needs to look at our definition for SDN (below), which is fairly broad as it includes use of RESTful APIs and other programmable interfaces with published APIs. We do not include CLI scripting, or use of NETCONF and SNMP as SDN.

Definition of SDNs (software-defined networks):

Deliver automation of the network through increased programmability. Inherent to SDNs are a method to abstract and separate a control plane from the data plane, providing centralized control of physical switches or providing network virtualization overlays. SDNs include a method (APIs or specialized protocols such as OpenFlow, etc.) that can be used by applications, SDN controllers, or orchestration software to ask for network state, information, or services.


To buy the report, contact Infonetics at:

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