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SDN in the data centre: service providers aren’t switching


via Fickr © Henrik Moltke (CC BY 2.0)

  • SDN in the data centre slower than expected
  • Service providers not ready to flick the switch from trial to production
  • Means that vendors looking to SDN gear still have time to sell

There may be a Gartneresque ‘Trough of Disillusionment’  playing out in the data centre as many service providers there slow their SDN deployments in favour of continuing trials and mulling the advantages. That’s according to a ‘Data Center SDN Strategies Global Service Provider Survey’ undertaken by IHS Markit which reports that “Getting SDN Live in the Data Center Is Taking Longer Than Expected.”

According to the research outfit’s Clifford Grossner, senior research director, data center, cloud, and SDN, data center SDN deployments are going slowly with two-thirds of the service providers that participated in its 2016 survey still conducting SDN lab trials - just slightly fewer that the three-quarters doing so back in 2015.

Also, the consensus view of the 2015 participants on how many of their number would be into  production trials and live deployment in 2016 proved to be highly optimistic. (see chart below )

Clifford’s conclusion is that getting to live production with SDN is taking more time than expected, not by any means that SDN has been abandoned . This means that the companies aiming to get a slice of the market for SDN controllers, data center orchestration and SDN applications can still carve out some market share since many purchases have yet to be made.

Clifford also reports that bare metal switching has currently stalled.  Bare metal switch ports still comprise, on average, 33 per cent of respondents’ data center Ethernet switch ports, he claims - the same proportion as last year. And, on average, only 24 per cent of bare metal switch ports are in-use for SDN, although that’s up from 12 per cent from the 2015 survey.

Of course a pause in adoption may also in part be attributable to the potentially disrupted striking back with keener equipment and support pricing in the interests of retaining account control.

Whatever the cause - post hype reflection, uncertainty or competition - it’s likely a pause more than a flop. Respondents are still bullish with the survey showing that by 2018, bare metal Ethernet switch ports in the data center are expected to reach 41 per cent.

When asked who were the big vendor names in the data center, Cisco was identified as a top-three vendor by 72 per cent of respondents, while Juniper was named by 39 per cent of respondents.

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