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What is software defined networking (SDN)?

SDNs aren't ready for prime time - yet. But IT execs need to understand the benefits of this radical shift in network technology.

By Jim Metzler, Network World
August 29, 2012 07:53 AM ET

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However, given the combination of the huge investments that vendors are making, combined with the ongoing spate of acquisitions, the SDN landscape will likely change notably over the next 12 to 18 months. IT organizations can expect an ongoing series of announcements both in terms of new products, new or enhanced protocols and further proof of interoperability. IT organizations can also expect that the basic building blocks of an SDN, such as the enabling protocols and APIs, will stabilize. Assuming that all of that happens, there are two events that have to occur in order for SDN to go from being strictly for early adopters to being ready for the mainstream market. One is the availability of functionality that enables IT organizations to effectively manage this new form of networking. The second is the availability of a wide range of applications that leverage the centralized control inherent in most forms of an SDN and which answer the question that all senior IT managers will ask: "Why should we spend our resources on SDN? What exactly are the benefits?"

Metzler heads Ashton, Metzler Associates. He can be reached at

Read more about software in Network World's Software section.

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