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SDN: An overnight star?

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It is not always evident that times have changed. Sometimes it’s difficult to observe the small changes or incremental improvements, until they collectively add up to an agenda-changing redefinition.

A singer can work for years touring clubs and scraping by as minor ‘support’ act. After years of understudy they might ‘come from out of nowhere’ and suddenly be recognized as ‘an overnight star’.

A similar phenomenon occurs in network services with every new generation of technology. The arrival of three ground-breaking capabilities: readily available fibre; ever increasing bandwidth; and agile tools for dynamic network configuration, measurement and management, have created a perfect storm, giving what is perceived as old utilities new and creative value-adding capability.

Software Defined Networks (SDN) have the potential to change the market landscape and could well become an overnight star. But hopefully it’s not a phenomenon that will come from out nowhere, given the feverish and sometimes controversial coverage in the press.

While for some, SDN heralds new service opportunities, for others it may seem like an existential crisis. And for the cynic, much of the discussion still seems to be centred around the equipment (real or virtualised). Kit manufacturers have gone into overdrive in the race to develop standards for Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) and a quest to extend those standards in the hope of differentiating their products.

But this overlooks the fact that the end goal is not greater equipment sales but delivery of software tools to enable customers to better build, manage and change their networks. Software Defined Networking is already enabling enterprises to move rapidly into a new era. This is an era where your network really is your network. It’s networking that you can switch and reconfigure without asking permission. SDN is the enabler, if your business is ready to seek out and benefit from new flexibilities, fresh strategic options and higher quality services for your clients.

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