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Research Firm: No Magic Quadrants for SDN/NFV

Research firm Gartner Inc. won't be publishing any "Magic Quadrant" reports for software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) technologies, "because SDN and NFV aren't markets."

Those are the words of analyst Joe Skorupa in a blog post yesterday explaining how the company periodically fields questions about when it will publish its trademark Magic Quadrant studies for the new-age networking technologies. "The simple answer is: We won't, because SDN and NFV aren't markets," he said. "They are an architectural approach and a deployment option, respectively."

Magic Quadrant reports break town technology vendors into four squares on a graph, with axes correlating to "ability to execute" and "completeness of vision." Depending upon where they land in the intersection of those axes, vendors are categorized as leaders, visionaries, niche players or challengers.

As the company explains:

A Magic Quadrant provides a graphical competitive positioning of four types of technology providers, in markets where growth is high and provider differentiation is distinct:

Leaders execute well against their current vision and are well positioned for tomorrow.

Visionaries understand where the market is going or have a vision for changing market rules, but do not yet execute well.

Niche Players focus successfully on a small segment, or are unfocused and do not out-innovate or outperform others.

Challengers execute well today or may dominate a large segment, but do not demonstrate an understanding of market direction.

"We do realize that other firms have published reports on the 186 quadrillion bitcoin market for SDN and NFV," Skorupa said. He then explains how SDN differs from a market and states: "So, there is no SDN market, just products that can be used to deliver that architecture, and many of those products also support legacy network architectures."

Skorupa described NFV as "a fancy [three-letter acronym] TLA for a disaggregated network service (software separate from hardware) such as an application delivery controller, session border controller or firewall."

For the populist record, here's how Wikipedia describes the technologies (or approaches, or concepts or whatever they are):

Software-defined networking (SDN) is an approach to computer networking that allows network administrators to manage network services through abstraction of lower-level functionality. This is done by decoupling the system that makes decisions about where traffic is sent (the control plane) from the underlying systems that forward traffic to the selected destination (the data plane). The inventors and vendors of these systems claim that this simplifies networking.
Network-functions virtualization (NFV) is a network architecture concept that proposes using the technologies of IT virtualization to virtualize entire classes of network node functions into building blocks that may be connected, or chained, to create communication services.

Apparently, the rest of the world hasn't caught on to Gartner's point of view yet, as a Google search for "the SDN market" yields about 6,330 results and "the NFV market" generates about 4,800 results.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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