Operational change equals new partner opportunities.

Lynn Haber

June 6, 2019

5 Min Read

Juniper Networks, just months after announcing its $405 million acquisition of Mist Systems, revealed some survey findings that were expected – such as software-defined networking (SDN) is popular and software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN) are hot – but also less expected findings, such as security might just be a driver for SDN adoption within the next five years.

In a recent Juniper and Wakefield Research poll of 500 IT decision makers on their SDN strategy, 48% see increased agility and increased reliability (43%) as SDN’s main advantages. The survey was conducted in May.


Juniper Networks’ Manoj Leelanivas

“But even more interesting, many enterprises see security – not speed – as the biggest consequence of not making this transition [to SDN] in the next five years,” Manoj Leelanivas, executive vice president and chief product officer at Juniper Networks wrote in a blog.

What’s the potential security play for SDN?

Leelanivas contends that SDN is an operational transformation, and when it comes to security, the challenge lies not in identifying threats or creating solutions but in applying these solutions to a fragmented network.

“Streamlining complex security operations, touching many different departments and managing multiple security solutions, is where a software-defined approach can provide the answer,” he wrote.

Mike Bushong, vice president enterprise marketing, agrees.


Juniper Networks’ Mike Bushong

“For a networking audience, when security shows up as the No. 1 concern that tells you two major things: that security is an all hands-on deck problem, and it suggests that the major security problems to be solved are operational, as well,” he told Channel Futures. “It’s not just, where’s my new software to detect a new threat — it’s more, how do I consistently apply security policy across vendor’s environments.”

If that’s the case, Bushong contends that the industry is going through an operational transition.

The security response by survey takers was one of two survey results that surprised Juniper. The other was that if 98% of IT decision makers are using or considering SDN – and SDN is all about changing how you operate – why is 87% of network management performed through command line interface (CLI) at the device level?

“It means that they adopted a tool, but they haven’t fully embraced the thing they adopted,” said Bushong.

Here are more details about the survey results.

Ninety-eight percent of IT decision makers are using or considering an SDN solution, with many seeing SD-WAN as an entry point. When asked where their company is in its SD-WAN rollout process, 20% stated that most of their network uses SD-WAN services, 19% reported partially deployed SD-WAN services, 15% are in the process of rolling out a SD-WAN service, 34% are considering SD-WAN and 12% have no plans to adopt SD-WAN.

Regarding the 87% figure about network management performed through the command line interface (CLI), Juniper points to Gartner research that looks at the use of the CLI for network operations versus the expected growth of network automation — as a reality check for the SDN transformation journey.

Gartner found, in January 2018, when checking in with network operations teams on the primary method for making network changes, a whopping 71% of respondents use the CLI on individual devices. That figure was way off a previous prediction that by 2020 only 30% of network operations teams would be using the CLI as their primary interface. A mere 6% were using a network automation tool. Gartner noted that in 2016, 85% of network operations teams were using CLI, demonstrating that progress has been slow.

There are some good implications for partners in the Juniper survey.

For starters, …

… 98% of organizations moving toward SDN and the operational shift that will follow.

“This is where you see major market inflections in terms of incumbent suppliers, customer preference, and so on, because an operational model changes what the individual experiences,” said Bushong. “It means that some historical loyalties will be broken and what we could see, for the first time in decades, is a real shake-up in the competitive landscape.”

This type of shake-up will force partners to rethink how they plan.

“If there’s a transition going on, channel players will have to think about how they introduce products and services into their portfolios without disrupting their existing revenue streams, but creating options for what they want to do in the future,” he said.

There’s another implication for partners. Bushong points out that organizations moving to a more software-defined operational model that’s AI-infused, will change what they can do, who they need to do it, and the types of technology that needs to be evaluated.

“Partners will need to support this transition, and that’s where the money will be made,” he said.

Finally, in terms of the results indicating a lot of respondents are in some stage of moving toward SDN but are still using CLI, there’s a huge opportunity for partners to help organizations embrace SDN and drive greater adoption.

“I think there’s a real opportunity for partners to drive this change toward something meaningful,” said Bushong. “They have to move from being purveyors of product to being facilitators of change.”

About the Author(s)

Lynn Haber

Content Director Lynn Haber follows channel news from partners, vendors, distributors and industry watchers. If I miss some coverage, don’t hesitate to email me and pass it along. Always up for chatting with partners. Say hi if you see me at a conference!

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