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How (and why) to get started with SDNs

Sharon Florentine | Dec. 11, 2013
The rise of software-defined networks (SDNs) is one of the big tech stories of 2013. For many IT organizations looking at deploying the technology, it's no longer a question of 'if,' but 'when,' according to Gartner's Joe Skorupa, research vice president for Data Center Convergence and Andrew Lerner, research director for Networking, at Gartner.

A New Technology Approach
SDNs aren't a replacement for the traditional command-line interface (CLI) networking pros currently use to program networking devices, they offer a completely different way to think about designing, building, and operating a network, says Skorupa, that can speed up provisioning and better allocate human and technical resources to make businesses more agile.

"One of our clients told us, 'The instant one of my techs sits down and pulls up the CLI, I know I've lost,'" Skorupa says. "Organizations are looking for ways to get rid of that 'human middleware,' so they can reallocate resources toward more strategic initiatives that can help move them forward," he says.

That's why, Skorupa says, for early adoptions, most businesses are choosing personnel with a very general networking knowledge, not those who have a laundry list of networking certifications, or who know every obscure CLI code, he says.

Bring in New Tech Blood
"Even when existing networking teams are involved in deploying SDNs, they are not choosing the folks who have a vested interest in the technology of today — because those people aren't going to want to change," Skorupa says.

With new technology like SDNs, businesses must look to new approaches, new personnel, and new vendors, Lerner adds.

"We tell our clients who ask how to get started with SDNs not to start in development, or even QA — start in the lab with testing. Look into at least two vendors that aren't your incumbent networking vendors, and a third that is a startup, because this is about learning what is possible and what you can do better," Lerner says. "You need different approaches, and to get the maximum value, you need to look at new vendors," he says.


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