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How SDN will help earn money, not just save

Mar 30, 20153 mins

Cashing in on software-defined networking.

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Software-Defined Networking (SDN) is transforming the network and giving network operators unprecedented network programmability, automation, and control. Network administrators are exploring it as it can help them not just optimize total cost of ownership, but do more with fewer people. However, SDN is not just about simplifying the network or cost savings; SDN enables new revenue production opportunities. Here are three ways you can look at how SDN helps monetizing.

Customized delivery

We live in the “Experience Era.” The rapid consumer adoption of mobile devices, cloud services, new interfaces, and changing behaviors have transformed how customers engage and what they expect. Customers are looking for services aligned with their needs and abilities, at that moment, on that device. Companies need to deliver experiences that are customer-centric, natural, anticipatory and adaptive. And SDN enables you to do that.

SDN enables you to create influential signature experiences – experiences that grab the customer’s attention and positively influence how they feel and what they do. 

For example, you can control bandwidth from the mobile device at the edge of the network to the core in the cloud. You can limit the Wi-Fi data rate at which a user is connected based on the service level agreement (SLA) based on the bandwidth usage on the WAN (wide area network) side. This way you can ensure the customer who is demanding (or paying) more gets what he or she expects. And you can do so because SDN gives you control of every network infrastructure device from the edge to the core (from the wireless campus to the data center). SDN allows you to control the policy dynamically based on the “network conditions,” “end user identity – who, type of device, type of application,” etc.

Faster delivery

Getting to market quickly with new services represents a vital competitive edge for any organization. However, conventional networks are difficult to reconfigure. SDN brings programmability to infrastructure.  

With SDN, you can modify or spin up new services much faster. 

You don’t need to change each node in the network manually as you can view and control allocation of network resources programmatically using open standards-based APIs. Additionally, it does not matter which vendor you are using for what as long as they support OpenFlow (SDN standard for programming data plane). This makes it easy to roll out new services. Faster delivery means faster time to new revenue.  

Cheaper delivery

SDN brings standards-based openness to the infrastructure, and this allows you to pick infrastructure (hardware) from any vendor. With SDN, you are not locked into any vendor, and you can pick a low-cost vendor for your infrastructure (hardware) if that works for you. 

SDN eliminates traditional vendor lock-in, giving you freedom of choice in networking like you have in other areas of your IT infrastructure such as compute and storage.

You can repurpose existing services onto SDN, making them cheaper for customers or higher margins for yourself. This allows you to serve and monetize a myriad of niche and mass market needs.

Overall, SDN is transforming the network into infinitely malleable software. It is giving the network operators not just flexibility, agility, and programmability, but also the best opportunity to create revenues. The three words more, faster, and better could not be used together in any other context before.


With over 25 years of engineering leadership and entrepreneurial experience in developing award-winning products in the software, mobile/wireless, and networking industries, Ajay Malik has led multiple turnarounds/successful exits: Meru acquired by Fortinet (as SVP Engineering and Products), Solution to (as founder), Turnaround of Cisco NMTG (as Director). Ajay Malik is a googler and an Angel Investor.

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of Ajay Malik and do not necessarily represent those of IDG Communications, Inc., its parent, subsidiary or affiliated companies.