IDC: SDN a $2 Billion Market by 2016

Software defined networking (SDN) isn’t just an academic anymore, it’s a new networking approach that could be worth billions of dollars in a very short time. That’s the message coming from IDC at their briefing at the Interop Las Vegas conference.

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“For too long managing the network has been the province of the CLI (command line interface) and networking geeks that know how to turn the knobs and dials,” Lee Doyle group vice president, Networking and Security at IDC, said. “The question is can the networking infrastructure move forward, so that even the server guys can figure out?”

Doyle stressed that no Interop presentation in 2012 would be complete without talking about OpenFlow and SDN. In his view, SDN is the most exciting thing in networking in the last decade. SDN abstracts the network and makes it easier to program and makes it simpler to manage.

There are three principal sets of vendors in the SDN space today: startups like Big Switch, then there are the traditional network vendors like Cisco and then there are the big IT vendors like IBM, Dell and HP. All three of those groups stand to profit from the SDN revolution.

IDC’s forecast for OpenFlow and the SDN market as a whole includes switching and routing as well as services and software. In 2013, it’s a $168 million market and by 2016 it be worth $2 billion, Doyle said. “From zero today to $2 billion by 2016 is very rapid growth and a very significant market forecast.”

Cloud market continues to ascend

While SDN is growing fast, so too is the cloud market. Cindy Borovick, IDC’s program vice president for Enterprise and Datacenter networks, noted that cloud is driving data center gear, too. “Behind every cloud is a data center.”

According to an IDC survey from the fourth quarter of 2012, the top priority, for nearly 40 percent of CIOs is to invest in cloud services. In contrast, less than five percent of CIOs indicated they had a plan invest in open source technologies as a top priority for 2012

IDC’s forecasts currently estimate worldwide cloud services revenue will reach $73 billion in 2016.

All that growth is reflected in growing demand for bandwidth and, in particular, 10 gigabit Ethernet (GbE). By 2015, IDC expects there will be 50,000 10 GbE ports shipped, which is a six-fold increase over 2011.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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