Software-Defined Networking (SDN): MSPs Never Heard of It

Software-Defined Networking (SDN): MSPs Never Heard of It

MSPmentor ConfusedDuring a casual conversation at a recent CharTec gathering in California, I asked MSPs (managed service providers) if they had any hopes or plans for software-defined networking (SDN). The response was utter silence. Most MSPs in the room had never really head the term. As I described SDN's potential value, a few folks in the room suggested that it was vendor hype rather than market reality. Are they right?

To be sure, vendors are spending big to get into the SDN market. Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) has invested in Big Switch. VMware (NYSE:VMW) acquired Nicira. And anyone you talk to in Silicon Valley will tell you SDN will ease network management.

Simply put, SDN decouples control from hardware. The result could be easier-to-manage networks built on lower-cost hardware. But here's the thing: SDN is only about a $168 million market this year, according to IDC. That's tiny. And as of 2012, only 4 percent of businesses had deployed SDN, according to InformationWeek.

Short term, I doubt SDN will impact on-premises SMB networks. I suspect it will first surface in cloud data centers and on big enterprise networks. A recent survey by Tail-f Systems suggests enterprises want SDN -- even if they're not sure what it is.

So far, I'm not seeing any real impact in the MSP market. Am I missing something here?

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