SDN Vol. 2

Where we stand with SDN

The software defined network movement is gaining momentum, but morphing along the way

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Asked what he advises clients that are just now expressing interest in SDN, Skorupa says, “We advise them not to start with the technology. Start by identifying the business issues you’re trying to address. What is it you want to do? Then from there start thinking about the things you need to achieve. Then set up a lab, pull together a team, begin the education process, bring in your incumbent and bring in at least two or three companies you haven’t been working with, including startups.” 

Building the business case won’t be a lay up, Skorupa warns: “The real question is, where does the incremental money come from? Because the last I heard, none of the vendors involved are charities. And you can’t just stand up and say, ‘Well, it will all be operational savings.’ No, it won’t. Unless you’re going to cut a massive amount of staff. Somewhere you’ve got to come up with the dollars, and they’re hard dollars, not soft dollars. These are not, ‘We achieved business agility and it will let us enter a market sooner and take additional market share.’ That’s great, and the business gets a benefit, but where do the hard dollars up front come from?” Is failure still an option for SDN?

“There are enough people who have built enough to prove that it is possible,” Skorupa says. “There will certainly be failures. There have been failures in the past when any new technology comes out. And it doesn’t mean that the large incumbents will get it right. But they are several, very credible companies already benefiting from SDN.”

Trouble is, few are yet willing to share their experiences, presumably because they want to leverage the technology in private for as long as they can here in the early goings.

Dix is editor in chief of Network World. Contact him at jdix@nww.com, follow him on Twitter at @JDNWW, or join the Network World communities at: LinkedIn, and Facebook.

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