QuinStreet Survey Cites Sharp Increase in SDN Deployments

IT decision-makers are choosing established IT vendors more often than not to build these speedy new-generation networking systems.

One of the most talked- and written-about IT trends of the last three years, software-defined networking (SDN), is now providing more bandwidth--and at an earlier time--in enterprise data centers than many industry experts might have imagined.

Going into the new year, this is good news for IT hardware and software providers--especially for well-established IT companies that have struggled lately, such as Hewlett-Packard, Cisco Systems, Dell, Juniper, Brocade, and IBM. This is because IT decision-makers are choosing them more often than not to build these speedy, new-generation networking systems.

New data center modernization research conducted by QuinStreet Enterprise, the publisher of eWEEK, Datamation, IT Business Edge and CIO Insight, among others, and released Jan. 6 shows that nearly two-thirds of large enterprises--more than 60 percent--are already deploying aspects of SDN in their internal systems, whether in private or in hybrid clouds.

Further, the report, "2014 Data Center Outlook: Data Center Transformation — Where Is Your Enterprise?" shows that buyers are employing tried-and-true vendors like those noted above to provide the products and services to do the work.

Established Providers Getting the Nod at This Time

The importance of purchase criteria varied by stage in the decision-making process; in the early stages, 80 percent of survey respondents rated system reliability, tech expertise, tech support/sales training as most important. In the RFP stage, 80 percent rated customer service as most important.

Overall, the research found that 61 percent of IT decision-makers surveyed said that modernizing their data centers is a priority for 2014.

Key takeaways from this industry insight:
a) SDN is the clearly the wave of both the present and the future for the data center, and no longer simply a good-sounding idea;

b) Established providers are being trusted--at least at the outset of this new data center wave--with laying the foundations in these new and refreshed systems;

c) Converged-infrastructure data center systems--meaning new-gen servers, storage and networking--are slower on the uptake in refreshes at this time, with only 27 percent of large enterprises seeking help from IT services and resellers for converged infrastructure deployment; and

d) Tech content sites, such as eWEEK, IT Business Edge, Datamation and CIO Insight, are the No. 1 source for information gathering on data center solutions. Sixty percent of respondents rate them as important when seeking information on data centers. Fifty-six percent of respondents cited talking to peers as important in decision-making.

Why SDN Is On the Rise

Software-defined networking, which can be attuned to older data centers faster than servers and storage, promises greater flexibility, scalability and programmability by removing much of the network intelligence from expensive, complex switches and routers and putting them into software-based controllers.

Established networking vendors, from Cisco and Juniper to Hewlett-Packard and Brocade, are currently leading marketshare in this category, but there now are a number of startups that are bringing their own value propositions.

The question many enterprise IT managers face is this: If we're going to refresh our systems, do we go with a well-known provider with a history over a number of years, or do we go with a promising but unknown company that could be the right answer but that does not have a track record to show the board of directors?

At this point, enterprises are going with the established names, the research says.

Most Important Benefits From Modernization

At the highest level, the QuinStreet research showed that the most important perceived benefits of data center modernization in 2013 were:

--enhanced security and improved uptime/availability;

--that large enterprises are focused on budgets/cost and resource efficiency with respect to Data Center Modernization considerations;

--that server virtualization is still the most widely deployed data center technology (no surprise there);
--and that about 60 percent of enterprises have deployed, are in the process of deploying, or plan to deploy, server virtualization within the next year.

Research Criteria

The QuinStreet survey about data center modernization for enterprise IT decision-makers was an email invitation/online survey conducted from July 24 to Aug. 7, 2013. The survey was sent to QuinStreet Enterprise database members in North America; there were no other demographic filters. Questions involved the purchase process for data center hardware, software, and networking products. There were 321 complete responses.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...