SDN to spur growth

As the software-defined networking (SDN) market begins to hit its stride, channel companies stand to benefit from networks that are easier to manage and adjust more readily to new customer applications.

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SDN to spur growth
By  Piers Ford Published  March 14, 2016

With its potential to help organisations consolidate and modernise their network infrastructure while rationalising costs, software-defined networking(SDN) is starting to gain traction with larger enterprises in the region.

It remains a very young market – to date, software-defined storage has been the main focus for early adopters – but all the signs are that the Middle East will follow the global trend of rising investment in solutions that enable the streamlined integration of legacy assets with emerging, sustainable networking technologies.

Estimates for the scale of this growth vary. Analyst firm IDC predicts that the worldwide SDN market will be worth $8bn by 2018, compared with just $960m in 2014. The 2015 SDN and NFV Market Size Report from SDxCentral suggested that the combined impact of SDN, network function virtualisation(NFV), network virtualisation and next-generation network initiatives will break the $105bn barrier by 2020.

Research firm Gartner is projecting that SDN will be deployed in more than 10,000 enterprise networks worldwide by the end of 2016.

Across the Middle East, from Bahrain to Dubai, the rise of SDN will be led predominantly by investment in large corporate and government infrastructure projects where a key goal – and the main challenge for suppliers and systems integrators – is to drive out the complexity of legacy systems and replace it with agile, streamlined and highly manageable networks.

“We are at an interesting crossroads right now, and are seeing early innovators taking the lead with new hybrid software-defined and cloud infrastructures, both across service providers and in the enterprise space,” said Glen Ogden, regional sales director Middle East at A10 Networks.

“Even though the standards and even some of the reference models are not quite there yet some large organisations have an imperative to start rolling out architectures that will take them through the next five years, reducing costs and scaling in a much more agile way.”

Ogden said that the wait for standards as well as diverging views on just how far SDN will invade the data centre make it futile to put a timescale on widespread adoption. But the business reasons for moving towards a consistent way of codifying operations, reducing complexity and optimising costs – all offered by SDN – are increasingly clear.

“There is still some residual scepticism about what SDN means in practice, and whether it can deliver everything it promises,” he said.

According to Maan Al-Shakarchi, sales director at Avaya, SDN and peripheral developments are fundamentally altering the value network of the industry as it shifts from traditional infrastructure to software-defined solutions – and systems integrators are warming to the challenges this will bring.

“The key trends driving SDN adoption are simplification and the ability to respond quickly to changing business requirements,” he said “You can’t wait six months for a new service to be deployed, it needs to be done immediately. The need to extend new services and applications to new sites quickly and easily, combined with trends like BYOD and Internet of Things (IoT) integration, is going to accelerate SDN adoption.”

At Bahrain distributor AJM Kooheji Group, assistant general manager Ali Mohd Akbar Khan said the assumption that SDN will only benefit large-scale data centres, and that it is not yet ready for prime time adoption, is misleading.

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