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Will network disaggregation play in the enterprise?

Jim Duffy | March 3, 2015
HP, Dell and Juniper target cloud for now, but some businesses might be on tap later.

Where is the benefit of disaggregation to the enterprise? Or, which enterprises could benefit?

"I see high-frequency traders and other financial institutions dabbling in it for some workloads, but they don't have unlimited resources like hyperscale companies," Kindness says. "For the general enterprise, such as General Mills or BMW, it doesn't make sense.

"In addition, most of the servers in the general enterprise are not virtualized," Kindness adds. "What fancy SDN or disaggregated environment do you need to create for a server with one application that isn't going anywhere? Those just need a dedicated link with a static policy."

IDC's Casemore sees broader applicability of disaggregation in enterprises, especially those, as he noted, that are moving to hybrid cloud and adopting the DevOps model of collaborative development and operation.

"Network disaggregation can potentially save them capex dollars, but, more important, it can allow them to gain business agility and to improve their overall IT service delivery and efficiency," Casemore says. "It could potentially give them the wherewithal to respond quickly to changing needs and to introduce new revenue-generating services as needed.

"There is an addressable market for this approach beyond hyperscale and cloud-oriented service providers. As hybrid cloud gains further momentum, and as enterprises reorganize their IT departments to speed service delivery and gain business agility, the addressable market for this sort of thing could expand further."

An addressable market, and a competitive disruptor for networking hardware vendors chasing Cisco's dominance in that market for decades. That includes HP, Dell and Juniper.

"These major IT players are long familiar with lower hardware margins than those that have typically accrued to traditional network hardware. They can afford to be disruptive in data center networking because they're not market leaders, and they presumably understand that there's a bigger game at play in the data center as a whole -- in which cloud orchestration, and software and professional services also will be critical elements," Casemore says. "In this context, network disaggregation -- as well as open-source networking -- could prove to be a useful competitive proxy for them."


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