​Market maturity ahead as software-defined networking nears $10 billion spend mark

“SDN will become a substantial contributor to the overall network infrastructure market."

The enterprise software-defined networking (SDN) market is maturing, but increasing customer adoption indicates this market is here to stay.

According to Technology Business Research, early adopters are completing trials and shifting to production deployments of the technology, which will transition into mainstream adoption by 2020.

“SDN will become a substantial contributor to the overall network infrastructure market,” says Krista Macomber, Data Centre Analyst, TBR.

“Production deployments started within a number of large-scale enterprise environments, and will spread across the industry as standards bodies gain momentum and vendors expand solutions and use cases.”

Previously a small number of large vendors drove networking standards, but openness and collaboration are hallmarks of SDN innovation.

With the support of industry alliance initiatives, such as the Open Networking Foundation, and increasing support from vendors of open-source technologies, Macomber believes use cases are broadening into areas such as security and mission-critical application availability.

Currently IT- centric conversations will increasingly include discussions of business benefits as enterprises validate the reliability and performance of SDN architecture.

“Customers recognise the potential of software-defined architectures in solving pressing pain points such as management complexity and workload inflexibility,” adds Christian Perry, Principal analyst and Practice Manager, TBR.

“However, barriers to adoption including internal resistance to change and industry immaturity remain.

“For vendors, proving the performance and reliability of solutions is a critical first step to adoption.”

The rise of SDN architectures is altering the vendor landscape.

As hardware becomes commoditised, software-centric vendors such as VMware and vendors of industry-standard hardware, such as Dell, can gain share from industry incumbents such as Cisco.

As software-centric vendors provide an avenue for customers to avoid pricey and complex hardware installations, industry incumbents message the value to customers of optimisation not only for overlay capabilities, but also for physical workloads and connections to optimize performance and scalability.

In turn, these efforts will help to protect vendors’ footholds in the market.