Study: Most U.S. Federal Agencies Have No SDN Deployment Plans

Software Defined Networking (SDN) offers the promise of a more agile programmable networking infrastructure. According to a new study sponsored by Juniper Networks, however, while the U.S. Federal Government sees some potential benefits to SDN, few agencies have any plans whatsoever to adopt the technology.

The study asked , “In approximately how many months, if at all, does your agency or department plan to adopt SDN?” Shockingly, 64 percent of respondents indicated that they have no plans to adopt SDN.

“Given that SDN is a new technology approach, we would expect many IT professionals to say that they have no current plans,” Mark Belk, national government chief architect at Juniper Networks, told Enterprise Networking Planet. “The survey also showed us that there is a knowledge gap about SDN, which is to be expected with government deployment of a new technology innovation.”

While the majority of U.S. government respondents said they have no current plans for SDN deployment, Belk commented that what was also interesting was that the survey showed 91 percent of respondents acknowledging at least one area in their agency or department that will benefit from SDN.

“We do think the fact that more than one-third (34 percent) of respondents said they currently have concrete plans to adopt SDN within the next two years is extremely high for a relatively new technology approach,” Belk said.

He added that the SDN deployment is on the table for government agencies in part due to the cloud. Belk noted that the cloud has been a discussion point for government for some time, and Juniper believes that many federal IT professionals are linking SDN and cloud implementations.  


Government agencies are currently dealing with the effects of sequestration, which has put a stranglehold on spending.

“The survey results indicate that lowering costs is the number one priority for respondents (at 72 percent), so yes, budget cutting initiatives like sequestration remain an issue for federal IT pros,” Belk said. ” In fact, sequestration, government furloughs, deficit spending limits, multiple years of continuing resolution and lack of an agreed budget are all factors that impact the government’s ability to procure and update government systems.”

Belk sees SDN as well as related Network Function Virtualization (NFV) technologies as key to helping the government in the current belt-tightening era.

“If costs can be reduced for CAPEX and OPEX, governments will need to consider and potentially adopt technologies like SDN sooner to control spend within the remaining budget,” Belk said.

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

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