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Charting the Symbiosis Between Cloud and SDN

by bcasemore on ‎05-01-2014 10:00 AM - last edited on ‎05-12-2014 08:40 AM by (4,798 Views)

By Brad Casemore, Research Director, Datacenter Networks, IDC


This is a Brocade sponsored guest post by IDC’s Research Director, Brad Casemore. Brad is a guest blogger.


The relationship between cloud computing and software-defined networking (SDN) is intriguing for a number of reasons, not least of which is the symbiosis and interdependence that each shares with the other.  Virtualization and cloud, and the mounting workloads they have spawned, place unprecedented demands and strains on traditional networks. As cloud continues to grow in all its guises, the limitations of traditional network architectures and their operational processes are laid bare.


Recent IDC surveys such as the annual CloudTrack poll, show that the critical drivers for moving to public cloud frequently encompass terminology evocative of then notion of speed. Words and phrases such as "faster access to new functionality", "agility", "providing new revenue-generating services", "efficiency", and "productivity" are among those commonly cited.


In terms of fulfilling those goals, however, the full spectrum of traditional datacenter network infrastructure is often found wanting. This is especially true for cloud service providers who depend upon network infrastructure to be an engine that drives growth, supports client workloads, and provides competitive differentiation. They have found that status quo represented by traditional networking is commercially untenable. These problems have been well recognized among hyperscale web entities and large cloud service providers, which is why they are at the cutting edge of seeking alternative approaches such as SDN.


For tangible business reasons, cloud-service providers and a growing number of large enterprises understand that the right blend of network infrastructure and operational processes, properly automated and orchestrated, can deliver substantive benefits. In a recent survey of cloud-service providers and enterprises worldwide, IDC found that respondents considering or implementing SDN cited the need for the network to possess greater agility, and support virtualized applications and cloud as a primary motivation. Many other primary motivations related to network support for new applications and services, better network programmability for operational efficiency, and faster provisioning of infrastructure to support application workloads.


Indeed, the same survey discovered that those who have deployed SDN, for the reasons just cited, are already deriving real business benefits. Nearly 46% of cloud providers and enterprises that have deployed SDN indicated they have realized OpEx savings of 10 to 20%. Another 37% indicated that those savings exceeding 30%. Those considering SDN employments anticipate similar efficiency gains and business benefits.


For all of these reasons, we are stressing the symbiotic relationship that exists between cloud and SDN. While virtualization and cloud clearly were precursors to SDN, the latter is now providing a network alternative and infrastructure foundation for the growth and prosperity of cloud business models.


Brad Casemore is IDC’s Research Director, Datacenter Networks. He covers networking products and related technologies and platforms typically deployed in the datacenter.