IHS-Infonetics Survey: Network Operators Reveal SDN Plans,Timing & Challenges/Alan's Take

IHS-Infonetcs latest report:  “SDN Strategies: Global Service Provider Survey” of worldwide carriers says that global network operators are moving toward software-defined networking (SDN). The carriers surveyed represent 49% of the world’s telecom capex and 46% of global telecom revenue.  

–>The study found that 82 % of service provider respondents have either already deployed SDN, are now deploying SDN, or plan to evaluate it in 2015.


  • The #1 reason service providers are investing in SDN is to simplify and automate service provisioning, which they believe will lead to service agility and quick time to revenue.
  • Various barriers are becoming more prominent as operators get closer to commercial deployment; respondents to this year’s survey cited integrating SDN into existing networks and immature technologies and products as the top 2 barriers.
  • Operators want SDN in most parts of their networks, with the top domains for deployment consisting of cloud services offered to customers, within and between data centers, and access for businesses.


Lead Analyst Quotes:

“The successful field trials and a few commercial deployments of SDN in the last year keep moving toward more commercial deployments in 2015, still mostly on a limited basis as operators put one or two use cases to the test under real-world conditions in their live networks,” said Michael Howard, senior research director for carrier networks at IHS & co-founder of Infonetics.  

“Carriers are starting small with their SDN deployments and focusing on only parts of their network to ensure they can get the technology to work as intended. We see in the results of our SDN survey that though momentum is strong, it will be many years before we see bigger parts or a whole network that is controlled by SDN,” Howard said. 



  • The 25-page 2015 IHS Infonetics SDN Strategies: Global Service Provider Survey is based on interviews with purchase-decision makers at 28 incumbent, competitive and mobile service providers from EMEA, Asia Pacific and North America that have evaluated or deployed SDNs in their networks or plan to do so. IHS asked operators about their strategies and timing for SDN, including deployment drivers and barriers, target domains, use cases and more. 


To purchase the report, please visit www.infonetics.com/contact.asp

Author’s Rebuttal:

We firmly believe that the overwhelming majority of network operators, with the exception of NTT, will not be deploying classical/pure SDN-OpenFlow as standardized by the Open Network Foundation (ONF).  Many are evaluating network virtualization (an overlay model where a logical network is mapped onto a physical network) as per the VMware schema.

However, the vast majority of carriers (and cloud service providers like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft) have invented their own version of SDN and instructed their equipment suppliers to implement that.  In some cases, they use a specific vendor product with some user programmablity, e.g. Cisco Metro Ethernet switches used for AT&Ts Network on Demand service (a switched Ethernet WAN service).

The bottom line is that such carrier or network equipment vendor specific solutions are generally not inter-operable with any other SDN carrier or cloud service provider offering. Hence volumes will be limited and network equipment vendors will need different software for different carriers.  As a result, we will likely see pockets of SDN in carrier WANs, but no mass deployment of ONF standardized SDN-OpenFlow anytime soon!


NFV Market to Grow More than 5-Fold through 2019: 

Virtualizing Network Security with NFV and SDN – Whitepaper and Webinar: 

35 Percent of Operators Surveyed Will Deploy NFV This Year: 

Virtual Routers on Track to Grow 125 Percent in the Next Year: 

Data Center and Enterprise SDN Market to Grow More than 15-fold by 2019: 

Network Operators Rate Router and Switch Vendors; Cisco #1 for 3rd Straight Year: 

Mixed-Bag Carrier Ethernet Equipment Market Set to Top $29 Billion in 2019: 

Download the IHS Infonetics 2015 service brochure or log in: www.infonetics.com/login.
  –  Analyst Note: ONUG Spring 2015: Preparing for Open Networking (June)
  –  NFV Hardware, Software, and Services Forecast (July)
  –  Carrier SDN Hardware, Software, and Services Forecast (Aug.)
  –  Routing, NFV, and Packet-Optical Strategies: Service Provider Survey (Aug.)
  –  Data Center SDN Strategies: Global Service Provider Survey (Aug.)
  –  NFV Vendor Leadership Analysis (2015)

SDN AND NFV WEBINARS (https://www.infonetics.com/infonetics-events
  –  SDN & NFV: Lessons Learned (Sept. 24: Learn more)
  –  SDN & NFV: Accelerating PoCs to Live Commercial Deployment (Watch now)
  –  White Box Switching: Is It Time to Jump In? (Watch now)
  –  Service Provider Experiences with NFV: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly (Watch now)
  –  Evolving Network Architectures: Cloud, SDN, NFV & Packet-Optical (Watch now)
  –  Router Bypass: Using NFV to Deliver Enterprise Services (Sponsor)

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