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Survey Shows Carriers Moving to SDN in a Big Way

A new survey from IHS Markit illustrates the maturation of the game-changing software-defined networking (SDN) approach, which reportedly will be adopted by all respondents and is already used by 78 percent of global service providers.

SDN is at the forefront of a software-centric networking transition, along with complementary technologies such as SDN for the wide-area network (SD-WAN) and network functions virtualization (NFV).

While SD-WAN represents the best route into enterprise networking, the report shows carriers have already jumped on the SDN bandwagon, which in its early stages was mostly relegated to limited test cases, proofs of concept and lab experiments.

In hawking its for-pay Carrier SDN Strategies Service Provider Survey - 2018, IHH Markit teased some of the details.

Noting that service providers are in the early stages of a long-term transition to SDN), the company said in a statement: "Various barriers and drivers have become more prominent, as operators get closer to commercial deployment, although the barriers remain. These barriers include the problem of products that are not carrier grade and difficulty with integration into existing networks."

The two main reasons for the move to SDN are:

  • Simplification and automation of service provisioning, leading to service agility and quicker time to revenue
  • End-to-end network management and control as part of increased automation
SDN Deployment Timing
[Click on image for larger view.] SDN Deployment Timing (source: IHS Markit).

IHS Markit listed these report highlights:

  • All of the 23 service providers surveyed reported that they will deploy SDN at some point. More than three-quarters (78 percent) of those providers will deploy or evaluate the architecture by the end of 2018, growing to 87 percent by the end of 2019.
  • Software-defined wide-area networks (SD-WANs) leads the list of SDN-based services expected to generate new revenue, with 78 percent of respondents identifying it as a key deployment goal, while nearly half (48 percent) plan to implement network slicing for IoT.
  • Automation and reduction of capex and operating-expenditure (opex) are among the goals for the top domains for SDN deployments. By the end of 2019, 74 percent of respondents will use SDN to automate the delivery of new services, followed by operations and management at 65 percent.

"The majority of service providers are investing in SDN in order to simplify and automate the provisioning of their networks for end-to-end network and service management and control -- with the goal of having a global view of network conditions across the various vendors' equipment, network layers, and technologies," the company concluded. "SDN figures in provider plans to generate revenue, with multi-cloud and network slicing for applications and IoT figuring more prominently this year."

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.

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