Virtualising server and storage resources to run private and hybrid clouds is an increasingly entrenched practice among Asia-Pacific businesses and government agencies. To empower greater capability from our robust and resilient networks, organisations are looking towards these new technologies to aid the reduction of costs and assist with boosting application performance and availability.
Empowering greater capability helps enables technology and business decision-makers who want to use cloud applications and services to take advantage of workforce mobility, the Internet of Things (IoT) and surging data volumes.
But how can technology decision-makers help enable innovation and exploit the cloud environments? The answer is software-defined networking (SDN).
SDN broadly applies the same model to networking, as virtualisation and the cloud applies to servers and storage in the data centre, delivering programmability to the data centre and corporate networks.
Organisations can use SDN to dynamically allocate network resources based on application needs, and better manage network performance and service quality. The technology is already in use in many data centres to support cloud projects, its extension into the corporate wide area network (WAN) and campus is still at the fledgling stage, but with significant growth predicted in the years ahead.
In fact, IDC predicts the global market for SDN to grow from USD$960 million in 2014 to more than USD$8 billion in 2018.
So how should businesses embrace the opportunity presented by SDN? The answer is to apply the same rigour as to all new technologies, including mitigating risks to security, performance and availability.
Be an early adopter
Launching an SDN project today will help enable organisations to gain an edge over their competitors. IDC notes that 2014 to 2016 is going to be a "significant launch point" for SDN in the enterprise, indicating those businesses that fail to get on board over the next few months risk being left behind.
Organisations that become early adopters stand to reap the rewards. For example, as the market is still immature they can work with providers to influence the development of SDN standards, functionality and services, helping to ensure their platforms are setting the industry standard, not following it.
Select the right partner
Selecting the right partner is one of the most important decisions organisations can take when undertaking SDN projects. For instance, software-defined networking providers born outside the legacy networking market may have a more innovative, dynamic culture than traditional vendors more suited to today's business needs The right partner may also be open to including organisations in discussions over products and services, taking a flexible approach to costs and including early adopters in pilot programs, ensuring the services delivered are exactly what's needed.
Additionally, making a good selection assists businesses to avoid having to invest resources in second or third attempts at software-defined networking while seeing their competitors move ahead.
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