Research: Understanding Software-Defined Networks

Sep 24, 2012


What Is Software-Defined Networking?

Software-defined networking has the potential to fundamentally change the networking industry. Given that potential and the buzz that surrounds it, you might guess that SDN is a well-understood concept and has been deployed by a large number of IT organizations. The reality is that only a small percentage of IT organizations claim to be very familiar with SDN. In addition, our InformationWeek 2012 Software-Defined Networking Survey shows that only 4% of IT organizations have already implemented SDN and only another 5% of IT organizations are testing it. At present, SDN is only for early adopters.

It will be challenging for SDN to be broadly deployed in the near term in part because it's not a narrowly defined technology like TRILL or SPB. Rather, it's an approach to networking that focuses on centralizing control functionality and providing programmatic interfaces into a wide range of network equipment. It also requires an extensive ecosystem of vendors. The breadth of what is referred to as SDN is partially a result of the varying ways that it's possible to centralize control and provide programmatic interfaces into network elements.

This report aims to bring clarity to the nascent SDN market by outlining the major approaches to SDN. We dig into how these approaches are similar and where they differ, and we examine the benefits and drawbacks of each approach. It also shares the results from the InformationWeek Software-Defined Networking Survey, which measures IT pros' familiarity with and attitudes toward SDN and OpenFlow, a new protocol closely associated with SDN. Finally, it provides guidance to help IT organizations develop a strategy for SDN. (R5451012)

Survey Name   InformationWeek 2012 Software-Defined Networking Survey
Survey Date   July 2012
Region   North America
Number of Respondents    250
Purpose   To gauge awareness of and adoption plans for software-defined networking and OpenFlow technology.

Research Report