SDN: Empowering Businesses to Control Network Behaviour

Vaibhav Gawde, Sr. Director - Systems Sales Consulting, Oracle India

The Software-Defined Networking (SDN) is a technology that allows for more agile networks by abstracting the static architecture of conventional networks into a software-controlled layer. Research reveals that the software-defined networking market is expected to grow from USD 6.2 million in 2013 to over USD 1 billion by 2018 in Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan).

Driving Factors

Key factors that enable this shift include Cloud, the Internet of Things, and a maturing of server and application virtualization. It is imperative for the network bandwidth to change according to the shifting workload. SDN accommodates this factor with rapid provisioning, reconfiguration and de-provisioning of what were traditionally fixed line services.

Scope of SDN in the Indian market

SDN empowers businesses to control network behavior by emphasizing the software application instead of the network infrastructure. As more and more workloads are virtualized, the demand to connect those virtual machines to a range of networks and storage systems also increases. In a place like India, the impact of increasing workload can result into systems with a mess of cables and interfaces on the back panel and networking configurations that remain tied to the physical network and storage. This can limit the resource sharing of the virtual systems. This is exactly where, input/output virtualization comes in, and whether it’s SDN or storage virtualization, each can help customers unlock the next wave of virtual environments.

Impact of network virtualization over traditional storage solutions

With the exception of direct-attached storage, most customers use some form of network storage via a SAN or NAS. Network virtualization makes it easier to connect any virtual machine to these storage resources. This opens up new market opportunities for products like Oracle Fabric Interconnect that provides network and IO virtualization, connecting existing networking and storage elements and virtualizing via a single pipe to server systems on the connected fabric. This combines the best of SDN with traditional data center networking and storage devices.

Challenges in migrating to an SDS approach

One of the biggest barriers can be the scope of knowledge and experience of the reseller. They may need to cover server, storage, networking, virtualization, security, and overall architecture to sell a complete solution. Some resellers may choose to team up with other vendors that specialize in an area where they have a gap, while others already have these skill sets across their different sales specialties. For these companies, it may require a shift in how they go to market because they may not be calling on individual silos within the customer.

Opportunities for resellers

The shift in virtualization—beyond compute—will open up new opportunities for resellers and ISVs. This means that resellers can expand their product services to include sizing and deployment of virtualized storage and networking to existing customer infrastructure to take advantage of cost savings and operational efficiencies.

It can also mean that they can broaden their influence on customers, because they need to be involved sooner in the design phase of the solution and won’t just be selling to one technology group. For a virtualized data center solution, they may need to work with the client’s server, storage, networking, and security teams. Resellers can capitalize by focusing on the impact that virtual networking and storage will have on the operational lifecycle of the data center. Products and services helping to address network and storage-capacity sizing, including deployment services of virtual storage and networking, are further opportunities for monetization.

Shift in the storage market’s vendor landscape

The enterprise data storage landscape has been rapidly growing from the last few years. Vendors are experiencing a strong diversification in the type and quality of resources which have to be deployed to satisfy their specific business requirements. Vendors in the SDN ecosystem are in a process of realizing the differentiated SDN related needs from cloud providers and that of enterprises and are building their approach accordingly. Cloud, mobile computing, access to web applications and global data access are impacting the entire infrastructure load and ask for more quickness and flexibility. On the whole, entire storage industry is experiencing one of the most remarkable transformations ever. Focus of end users is being shifted towards server-based storage, software-defined storage, and cloud-based storage. As a result, traditional enterprise storage vendors are forced to revamp and update their product portfolios to meet these shifting demands.