Exclusive Research: How Are Enterprises Deploying SDN?

Software Defined Networking (SDN) has emerged to become one of the hottest topics in networking, but how widely deployed is it today?

That was one of the many questions asked in new exclusive research conducted by Palmer Research and QuinStreet Enterprise (publisher of this site) and detailed in the 2014 Data Center Outlook: Data Center Transformation – Where is Your Enterprise? report.

The study surveyed 321 qualified IT professionals and found that 88 percent of enterprises are investing in their data centers for a variety of different goals. One area of investment is the network and more specifically, SDN.

14 percent of survey participants reported that they have already deployed SDN, with 15 percent planning on deploying it in the next 12 months. Additionally, 33 percent of respondents indicated they are considering SDN. 39 percent indicated that they had no plans to deploy.

The QuinStreet Enterprise study stands in stark contrast to other reports in recent months about SDN adoption and plans. A study sponsored by Juniper Networks reported in August that 64 percent of respondents had no plans to adopt SDN. That study, however, focused on U.S. Federal Government IT deployments, while the new QuinStreet Enterprise study looks at U.S enterprises.

As to why respondents to the QuinStreet Enterprise study are looking to deploy SDN, there are a number of data center modernization benefits. The top benefit, cited by 81 percent of respondents, is that SDN provides improved uptime and availability. Another key benefit, cited by 76 percent of respondents, is that SDN can enable enhanced security. The QuinStreet Enterprise report identifies security overall as a key driver for data center modernization efforts.

Multiple vendors have made security a cornerstone of their SDN application portfolios. HP has its Sentinel SDN application, which helps detect vulnerabilities and can route reporting to a Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) backend. In a video interview with Enterprise Networking Planet earlier this year, Juniper Networks Chief Security Architect Chris Hoff also warned about the potential security risks that SDN itself might present to a network.


While there is no shortage of vendors in the SDN space, the QuinStreet Enterprise study found that 60 percent of large enterprises are choosing to deploy SDN via large networking vendors.

Large networking vendors have been active in the SDN space. None is larger than Cisco, and Cisco has been among the most active, with both an open source OpenDaylight effort and its new Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) initiatives. During Cisco’s recent financial analyst conference, CEO John Chambers remarked that it’s unlikely that organizations are going to change their primary networking vendor when moving to SDN.

Though large enterprises are opting to deploy SDN with large networking vendors, the QuinStreet Enterprise study found that the same is not true for smaller enterprises with less than 1,000 employees. For those enterprises, only 39 percent indicated that they would choose to go with a large networking vendors.

The complete QuinStreet Enterprise Executive Brief is available here: 2014 Data Center Outlook: Data Center Transformation – Where is Your Enterprise?

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

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