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Huawei: Approach to SDN changing

Users less interested in cost savings and focusing instead on innovation, says Huawei CTO

Raffensperger: The magic of SDN is not in achieving cost savings
Raffensperger: The magic of SDN is not in achieving cost savings

The way that IT professionals approach software-defined networking (SDN) is changing, with many shifting their focus from using SDN to save on costs to using it to drive innovation, according to Huawei's CTO for IT solution sales, Ron Raffensperger.

Speaking to ITP.net, Raffensperger said that SDN was now being seen as a way towards what he called ‘network as a service', which can help organisations to offer network capabilities based on users' priorities or the needs of their applications.

"Software-defined networking is clearly a part of that. If you're going to try to do the network as a service, you need SDN," he said.

"SDN is going through a transition. The early thoughts about SDN were kind of about there must be some way to get cheaper switching boxes - let's move the intelligence out of the edge, put it in some central place, and this will make my CAPEX lower.

"I think what people have figured out is that that's really not the magic of SDN. Yeah, maybe you can reduce the costs but the real issue is around your operating expenses, and the ability to offer new services," he added.

In terms of SDN development, Raffensperger said that it was still early days, but a lot had already been done in terms of creating standards. The defining of these standards was helping people to see where the real benefits of SDN are, he added.

"We're spending a lot of time with our customers and, because of our background with the network operators, and trying to figure out what you really do with SDN," he said.

Huawei last year brought out a campus network that Raffensperger described as SDN-controlled. He said that the work on this product was helping the vendor to better understand how SDN can help enterprises better deliver services.