SDN: Fad or Transformational?

In a recent article (SDN. A fad, like 3D-TV? Only in technology defined enterprises), Logicalis Group’s CTO Chris Gabriel shared his thoughts on the long-standing doubts about SDN held by the IT industry.

Despite having been around since 2008, SDN hasn’t boomed. But it has become more prominent today and the subject of debate between IT and business users.

The concept of software-defined networking (SDN) didn’t resonate well when it first reared its head in the industry, as it is built to decouple the control and data planes to move the control plane from hardware to a software application. Essentially, it’s meant to enable network engineers and administrators to respond quickly to changing business environments. But of course, IT’s perception at the time was that they held the control over all data and technology in the organisation, and when technology came about that threatened to relinquish that control, IT wanted to have none of it.

But of course, in an ever-changing industry, nothing stays the same. The industry was soon taken over by the vast consumerisation of technology in the form of cloud-hosted software / applications that were delivered on-demand.

Line-of-business managers were able to get technology without any help from the IT department and some of them did that. Not only was this negatively impacting the organisation, since data was being stored in applications that might not be compliant with privacy and security laws, it was undermining IT’s role.

On realising they were being sidelined, CIOs and IT soon recognised that they needed to evolve with the industry to keep being relevant to their organisation. And we’re now at a point where IT is moving from being a technology-centric function towards a service-centric function.

This is where SDN comes in. Logicalis believes that SDx (software-defined anything) “defines IT by services not by technology”.

Gabriel, emphasises that line-of-business managers want agile, flexible and responsive tools that drive their business, so it is no surprise that most organisations are looking at SDN to meet the requirements of their managers. Since SDN providers run their environment like a service, and they keep an eye out for anything that can drive new service experiences or make existing ones more efficient.

Not only does Chris believe that SDN is transformational in changing the way IT teams think about what they do, he adds that “it is transformational because it changes the way that business, the all-powerful IT users and funders, can think about and get what they need from IT investments”.

In their quest to become an organisations’ ‘service provider’ not ‘technology provider’, IT has to run like a service that can keep up with the requirements of the entire organisation. And this is exactly what SDN does, according to Chris. He states, “(SDN) allows the business to align IT resources to business requirements more directly than ever before”.

Despite coming across several articles that claim SDN is just a fad - nothing better than a hyped up 3D TV that will be gone soon enough, he stands by his views: “SDN and software-defined other things like data centre, will be the biggest transformation in how we design, deploy, operate and provision IT services in the next 20 years”.

Chris warns that IT should not overlook SDN, or try to find negatives in the technology. Instead they should look into the technology to understand its capabilities better. After all, it will soon become the key facilitator in transforming IT from a technology-centric function to a service-centric function.

To learn more about SDN and how it can help IT stay relevant to their organisation, refer to the full article by Chris Gabriel.

Tags Digital Transformation, SDN, SDx, service centric, service led transformation, software defined networking, software defined anything, technology centric


Align your business strategies with the business goals