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Enterprises lukewarm to SDNs

Jim Duffy | June 22, 2015
Cultural, legacy, business case issues create adoption gap with cloud providers.

"In a large enterprise, change is the enemy," says Vesko Pehlivanov, vice president of technology services and strategy at Credit Suisse, who also spoke at ONS.

With 5,000 to 6,000 business applications, Pehlivanov has to present Credit Suisse with a compelling business case for moving to SDN and perhaps injecting new software code, including open source, into that environment. The benefits of open source SDNs to cloud and service providers were prevalent at ONS this week but not so apparent to a risk averse, highly regulated investment bank.

"Is software the right model for enterprises as well?" Pehlivanov asked during his ONS keynote address.

Even if there was a fit for open source in the Credit Suisse SDN Pehlivanov said it was critical for attracting the next generation of IT talent -- the bank could not reciprocate.

"Most of our intellectual property is from code we developed," he said. "We cannot contribute back to the open source community."

And disruption is another issue. Introducing change into a legacy environment with internally developed code and 5,000 to 6,000 business applications while still maintaining stability is a daunting proposal.

"How do you handle entropy in the environment?" Pehlivanov asks. "How do we guarantee stability?"

Technology immaturity doesn't help. Advances are being made in fortifying open source and vendor developed SDN and cloud code every year, but melding them into brownfield environments where everything is working and predictable may not be appealing.

"It would help enormously" if vendors underwrite open source projects like OpenStack to indemnify users if something blows up, says Colin Constable, co-founder of Deutsche Bank Labs, a research and development arm of Deutsche Bank.

"I run OpenStack," Constable says. "It runs ok for a week and then something goes wrong I'm like, I am not an expert on OpenStack. You find out pretty quickly that you're not an expert on OpenStack when OpenStack goes wrong. The only way I can fix it is by re-installing the whole damn thing which means, there's no way it's going into production unless I've got somebody like Red Hat, unless I've got somebody like SUSE to provide that expertise on demand. This is complicated stuff."

Which is why enterprises are looking at someone else to take the arrows as an early adopter and prove it out before they do.

"We're looking for the industry to help us solve these challenges," says Credit Suisse's Pehlivanov.

"The cloud providers are doing amazing things but others are waiting to do it," says Parulkar. "There is a gap. The rest of the industry seems very slow."


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