Businesses in the United States appear to be split on the issue of adopting software-defined networking (SDN), according to a Juniper survey of 400 IT decision-makers working in education, financial services, government and health care industries.
SDN architectures are designed to decouple network control and forwarding functions, enabling network control to become directly programmable and the underlying infrastructure to be abstracted from applications and network services.
Although more than half of U.S. businesses surveyed (52.5 percent) said they plan to adopt SDN, the other half (47.5 percent) say they still have no plans to implement the technology.
While businesses appear divided on the short term, when asked to look five years down the road, 77 percent of surveyed respondents said they believe most business networks will include SDN technology.
When asked what their organizations are looking for when adopting SDN, 30 percent of IT pros cited high availability and resiliency. Analytics and reporting (23 percent) and automation and rapid provisioning (19 percent) were also top goals.
More than one-quarter of surveyed companies (27 percent) report that they are completely ready or almost completely ready to adopt SDN–giving themselves an “A” or “B” letter grade.
In addition, 38 percent of the IT decision-makers graded their organization’s SDN readiness as a “C,” noting that their business was somewhat ready to adopt SDN.
Mike Marcellin, senior vice president of strategy and marketing at Juniper, cautioned businesses implementing SDN must take security into consideration when they perform the architectural design of the new infrastructure, and not treat security as an afterthought.
"SDN enables network virtualization and multi-tenancy, which can pose new security threats," he told eWEEK. "Businesses that adopt SDN without being fully prepared run the risk of deploying a solution and getting locked into a closed architecture that may not evolve in the direction they envisioned or could prevent them from taking advantage of the latest SDN development."
Of the surveyed companies that have plans to adopt SDN, 74 percent say they plan to do so in within the next year, with 30 percent indicating they plan to make the move in just one month.
The report also revealed some of the potential barriers to adoption. Following cost (50 percent), IT decision-makers noted difficulty integrating with existing systems (35 percent), security concerns (34 percent) and lack of skills from existing employees (28 percent) as the top challenges to adoption of SDN.
Survey respondents indicated the biggest benefit of SDN is improved network performance and efficiency (26 percent), followed by simplified network operations (19 percent) and cost savings on operations (13 percent).
"Business today is moving at the fastest pace we’ve ever seen. In order to gain a competitive advantage, businesses need to be able to execute on their strategies and implement their ideas faster than their competitors," Marcellin said. "Because IT budgets are stretched, CIOs and IT leaders need to make sure that new investments are strategic and have good return on investment."