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Carriers all in on SDN... Almost

82% deploying or evaluating in small scale to work out kinks

Most network operators have either already deployed SDN, are now deploying SDN, or plan to evaluate it in 2015. That’s the finding of a recent survey of worldwide carriers by IHS, formerly Infonetics.

The market research firm queried 28 operators that account for half of the world’s telecom capital expenditures. They also represent 46% of telecom revenue.

The study found that 82% of the 28 respondents have already or are now deploying SDN, or evaluating it. Commercial deployments are still on a limited basis though as operators test one or two use cases under real-world conditions in their live networks, according to IHS.

Carriers are ensuring they get the technology to work as intended. So though momentum is strong, it will be many years before bigger parts or a whole network is controlled by SDN, IHS says.

It may require that amount of time. At the Black Hat 2015 conference, white box SDN switches and software supporting the popular Open Network Install Environment (ONIE) were found to be easily compromised. And Cisco recently issued a security advisory that its SDN controller is susceptible to root user infiltration.

Also, respondents to the IHS survey found integrating SDN into existing networks, and immature technologies and products as the top barriers to deployment.

Nonetheless, service providers like AT&T and Verizon are investing in SDN to simplify and automate service provisioning for quicker time to revenue. They are looking to inject it into cloud services offered to customers, within and between data centers, and in access networks for businesses, IHS found.

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