Why 2014 is the Year of Software-Defined Networking

Written by Zeeshan Naseh

provisioning automationThe constantly evolving dictionary of IT terms had a new entry in the past year or so: Software-Defined Networking. In short order, SDN has threatened to become one of the most important terms of 2014.

Here’s why: For a variety of reasons, large enterprises are relatively late to the cloud party and all the benefits that are possible, from reduced capital and operating expenses to elastic capacity for innovation. Now, the pressure is on IT to transform from organizational obstacle to facilitator of innovation – without losing governance.

SDN, which you’ll see referred to alongside sister terms Software-Defined Data Center and Software-Defined Storage, helps provide an answer to that need.

In a recent market analysis by Enterprise Management Associates researcher Torsten Volk, an enterprise architect at a major U.S. healthcare provider describes the need like this: “We need better control and management capabilities for massively heterogeneous systems that are constantly required to provide business units with the applications and services they need.”

Top Priorities in a Software-Defined Environment

The EMA study, titled Obstacles and Priorities on the Journey to the Software-Defined Data Center, asked enterprise IT leaders the most important aspects of the SDDC. Nearly half cited the need to manage resources from a single control point. Nearly as many cited “best-practice, repeatable configurations of software and infrastructure for workload deployment.”

Other top priorities: Policy-driven provisioning, orchestration and automation to easily deploy applications across silos and easy movement of workloads between external public clouds and internal data center resources.

In other words, what enterprise IT needs is agility and flexibility – the ability to quickly marshal all available resources and make them available to internal or external customers.

Developers Need Better Access to Infrastructure

Volk’s study goes on to document other findings that point to the pending explosion in the use of software-defined networking and storage. He writes that 70 percent of all respondents say they have current projects “aimed at making infrastructure more accessible to developers.”

That’s exactly what SDN enables. As Forrester analysts said recently, software-defined approaches to cloud computing are “genuinely new and different” and will allow enterprises to “amplify consolidation and developer access,” all in the cause of focusing more on customers.

Secondly, if you want to understand where technology is headed, just follow the money. Forty percent of respondents in the EMA report said their companies are investing in multi-virtualization and/or cloud management platforms this year. Other top areas: capacity management, configuration management, infrastructure orchestration and centralized management of physical, virtual and cloud resources.

uCloud™ Does All That, and More

All of which confirm for us that Connectloud is on the right track. Software-defined networking of legacy internal datacenters is a key characteristic of our uCloud™ platform. We call it a Software-Defined Cloud.

Finally, IT is able to manage all available resources – whether legacy internal datacenters or the external public cloud of any vendor – from a single pane of glass. Capacity can be turned up or down in minutes. And consumption is metered to offer maximum cost control.

We’re convinced – and research such as the EMA report supports our belief – that software-defined approaches such as ours are the way enterprise IT will finally realize true value in commodity cloud without sacrificing security. In this case, what’s good for IT is great for the enterprise.

To quote Mr. Volk: “The better the IT department serves these business units, the more competitive the entire organization will be in the marketplace.”