OPEX Reductions Expected in 2nd Year of Data Center SDN Deployment- why not?


IHS-Infonetics conducted in-depth interviews with service providers that have deployed or plan to deploy or evaluate software-defined networking (SDN) by the end of 2016.  They discovered that 85% of survey respondents expect data center network operating expenses (OPEX) to decrease significantly by the second year of SDN deployment.

Author’s note:  Of course, that was one of the driving forces behind moving to SDN in the first place! 

“Service providers expect SDN to deliver a positive return on investment. Our data center SDN study found that providers expect significant OPEX cost reductions within two years of deploying SDN. CAPEX reductions are also expected, and respondents acknowledge they need to invest in equipment and operational processes to get started with SDN,” said Cliff Grossner, Ph.D., research director for data center, cloud and SDN at IHS.   “In supplying SDN to service providers, open source vendors have the largest opportunity with orchestration software and applications,”  Grossner added.


·     Service provider respondents named Cisco, Alcatel-Lucent/Nuage and VMware as top SDN vendors. Note that none of those use the pure SDN/Open Flow model!

·     Service providers that are scaling up their data centers—investing significant CAPEX in physical servers and virtualization technology—are most likely to deploy SDN

·     Expectations for SDN are clear: simplified network provisioning, network automation, rapid application deployment and interoperability with existing equipment

·     The top data center SDN use cases among operators surveyed are a cloud architecture for the data center, automated application deployment and hybrid cloud.




For the 35-page 2015 IHS Infonetics Data Center SDN Strategies: Global Service Provider Survey, IHS interviewed purchase-decision makers with detailed knowledge of their organization’s data center SDN plans and strategies about plans to evolve their data centers and adoption of new technologies over the next two years. Respondents were asked about SDN deployment drivers, barriers and timing; expected CAPEX and OPEX changes with SDN; use cases; switching technologies; applications; vendors; and more.

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Raj Jain, PhD: The key characteristics of SDN are programmability that allows policies to be changed on the fly. This allows orchestration (ability of manage a large number of devices), automation of operation, dynamic scaling, and service integration. Combined with virtualization, this also allows multi-tenancy and all of the above benefits to individual tenants as well.

It is important to know what SDN is not. SDN is not separation of control and data plane or centralization of control or OpenFlow. These are all one way to do SDN but alternatives are equally good. Networks can be programmed and policies can be changed without separation of data and control plane, without centralization of control, and without OpenFlow.