Report has IBM looking to exit SDNs

Company said to be shopping SDN business to Cisco, HP, Dell, Juniper for $1B

IBM is reportedly looking to sell its software defined networking business for $1 billion.

According to the news site Re/code, IBM has approached at least five vendors, including Cisco, Dell, Fujitsu, HP and Juniper, to gauge their interest in the unit, called Software Defined Network for Virtual Environments. The unit includes hardware and software for constructing SDNs, including OpenFlow-based controller and IBM’s Distributed Overlay Virtual Ethernet (DOVE) network virtualization software.

Blade and top-of-rack switches obtained from the company’s 2010 acquisition of BLADE Network Technologies were sold to Lenovo last week.

IBM says it does not respond to "rumor and speculation." Cisco, Dell, Fujitsu, HP and Juniper said they don’t comment on rumors.

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According to Re/code, IBM deems the SDN unit non-strategic, much like the low-end server business it sold to Lenovo earlier last week for $2.3 billion. IBM recently invested heavily in its Watson cognitive computing unit and SoftLayer cloud computing unit, Re/code reports.

It is unclear what impact, if any, IBM’s divestiture of its SDN business will have on the company’s participation in the OpenDaylight Project, which it co-founded with Cisco. OpenDaylight is an effort to develop an open source SDN framework, including an SDN controller.

Inder Gopal, vice president of Networking Development at IBM, is on the OpenDaylight board.

SDN is forecast by several analysts to be a $3 billion to $35 billion business by the latter part of this decade.

This would be another exit from networking for IBM. The company sold its Networking Hardware Division to Cisco in 1999.

Jim Duffy has been covering technology for over 27 years, 22 at Network World. He also writes The Cisco Connection blog and can be reached on Twitter @Jim_Duffy.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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