SDN has grabbed the attention of established networking vendors, including Cisco Systems, Juniper, Hewlett-Packard and Brocade, as well as startups such as Big Switch Networks and Plexxi. Other vendors with little networking expertise, including VMware and Oracle, also are looking to add SDN to their growing portfolios of data center solutions.
Standards organizations, such as the Open Networking Foundation and the vendor-driven OpenDaylight Project, also are looking to create common SDN platforms and tools. The Facebook-led Open Compute Project also is working on creating an open network switch.
However, while SDN has generated a lot of attention, there hasn't been much in the way of deployments. In a recent Cisco survey, 71 percent of respondents said they plan to deploy SDN technology this year, but 34 percent said that to date, they've seen such deployments as often as they'd seen Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster.
However, Informa's survey indicates that mobile carriers may be more ready than enterprises to embrace SDN. The report points to three areas in the architectures of mobile operators where SDN is beginning to appear: in the separation of the control and data planes, in the virtualization of network components and in the exposure of services through APIs.
"The mobile network has become the mobile Internet and an integral part of our daily lives," Brad Brooks, vice president of business strategy and marketing for Juniper's Software Solutions Division, said in a statement. "SDN is a major shift in the networking industry that can remove the challenges of scalability and agility and provide mobile operators an opportunity to deliver anytime-anywhere data services to customers. The emergence of SDN provides a tangible solution to practically and cost effectively enable innovative new business models that deliver the mobile services users want and need."
According to the survey, the biggest drivers of SDN adoption among mobile carriers will include 4G Long-Term Evolution and LTE-Advanced deployments, with the leading markets being North America—particularly the United States—and the Asia-Pacific region, including Japan and South Korea. Sixty-five percent of the respondents in Informa's survey said infrastructure vendors will have the most influence over the adoption of mobile SDN.