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Carrier Interest in SDN Growing, IHS Infonetics Says

A survey of global service providers finds that 82 percent of respondents say they have deployed SDN or will evaluate it this year.


Carriers worldwide are embracing software-defined networking to help create infrastructures that enable them to more quickly spin out services for their customers, according to a recent report by analysts with IHS Infonetics.

In the survey of global service providers, the analyst firm found that 82 percent of respondents have already deployed software-defined networking (SDN) in their environments, are deploying it now or have plans to evaluate it in 2015.

They want to bring SDN into most parts of their networks, with the top focus of deployments being for cloud services that are offered to customers, according to IHS Infonetics, which released its report this week. Other top reasons include using SDN for connectivity within and between data centers and for access for businesses.

"The successful field trials and a few commercial deployments of SDN in the last year keep moving toward more commercial deployments in 2015, still mostly on a limited basis as operators put one or two use cases to the test under real-world conditions in their live networks," Michael Howard, senior research director for carrier networks at IHS, said in a statement. "Carriers are starting small with their SDN deployments and focusing on only parts of their network to ensure they can get the technology to work as intended."

While the numbers coming out of the survey indicated that momentum is strong, "it will be many years before we see bigger parts or a whole network that is controlled by SDN," Howard said.

The primary reason service providers are investing in SDN is to simplify and automate service provisioning, the analysts said. Carriers believe that making their networks more automated will lead to greater agility and flexibility in their services and enable them to more easily generate revenue.

However, there are challenges in adopting SDN, the carriers said. The top two are integrating SDN into their existing networks, and dealing with technologies and products that are still relatively immature, the survey indicated.

IHS Infonetics analysts have been tracking the network virtualization market for several years. In June, the analyst firm found that 35 percent of global telecommunications carriers are planning to deploy network-functions virtualization (NFV) this year, and 48 percent expect to evaluate it by the end of 2015. In another report last month, they said that the market for NFV hardware, software and services will grow from $2.3 billion this year to $11.6 billion in 2019.