IDC: SDN is a Buzzword

Working in the networking business, it’s hard to avoid the term SDN (Software Defined Networking). But if you step outside the networking bubble, it just might be possible to see SDN for what it really is today.

At the RSA security conference at the end of February, I sat in on the annual IDC analyst security breakfast meeting. Since it was a security event, I figured it would be a great time to ask about SDN, given the intersection of SDN and security that many vendors like to talk about.

The answer I got wasn’t what I expected.

I asked the IDC analyst panel, How much IT security spend is going to SDN-related security initiatives, or is it just a buzzword?

John Grady, research manager with IDC’s Security Products Group, responded, “Right now, I think it’s just a buzzword.”

I suspect that’s not an answer that Grady, or anyone else, would have given at last week’s Open Networking Summit (ONS), or at any other networking-focused conference. SDN dominates the networking conversation. In the wider IT context, however, it’s not that big a deal yet.

Grady noted that from his perspective, there is some proof-of-concept work going on with SDN.

“I think that SDN security is still a little far out and physical network security is still a hardware-oriented market,” Grady said. “Longer-term, people are wondering what the impact is for virtualized network security applications and what that means for network security platforms.”

In terms of actual net new spending related to SDN security, Grady had no real comment.

In response to a question that came at the end of the session, Grady noted that he wouldn’t expect any SDN impact to show up until 2015. Even then, he expects it to be just a shift in IT budgets. He doesn’t expect SDN security to drive new spending.

So is SDN, in terms of one of its primary applications (security), actually real? Or just a buzzword?

The reality, of course, is that marketing hype and vendor hyperbole always precede broad IT adoption. In some cases, the hype and hyperbole don’t translate into adoption, either. When it comes to SDN, and, more specifically, SDN-based security solutions, I suspect time will tell what the real answer will be.

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

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