As we work on our next Advanced Research Report – Data Center Disruptors, which touches on data center switching and SDN, it has become clear that the perception and progress on SDN has changed since the beginning of the year.  The market has entered a new phase for SDN—it hasn’t been easy getting there, but we have moved out of the hype cycle.

Five Phases of SDN:

Phase 1 – Definitions and discovery

Phase 2 – Hype cycle

Phase 3 – Qualification of architectures and early stage production deployments

Phase 4 – Large-scale production deployments

Phase 5 – Adapt or Die.

It is clear that many start-ups are disappointed that SDN is taking so long to ‘take off’, but when we look at our forecast for SDN and compare it to last year, the transformation is happening about the time we originally anticipated that it would.

Maybe it’s the fall, or the Giants in playoffs (Go Giants!), but the long term reality of SDN is out there, and it is starting to really come into focus.  We are also getting closer to entering Phase 4—large-scale production deployments–where we truly get significant adoption.  But be warned, ‘closer’ is still a multi-year process.

It is very important and healthy for the market to realize how, and to some extent where, SDN ends.  Vendors large and small have finally come to realize what is going to hit them in Phase 5 ─ they must adapt or they will die!  We believe that with this realization, the entire data center will be turned upside down and every dollar of revenue an incumbent has earned must be earned again, and will cause some significant changes out there.  To put it differently, customers won’t buy the old stuff anymore and simply upgrading speeds does not count as adapting.

IBM selling its x86 business to Lenovo is just the beginning, and rumors of H-P buying EMC, H-P splitting into two companies, etc., are indicative of the large and long boxing match amongst the heavyweights to survive into the next decade.


Alan Weckel

Posted by Alan Weckel on October 6, 2014

About Alan

Alan Weckel is Vice President of Enterprise Telephony and Ethernet Switch market research at Dell’Oro Group. He joined Dell’Oro Group in early 2006 and is also in charge of the firm's Enterprise and Data Center coverage areas.