SDN shakes up status quo in datacenter networking

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According to new research from IDC, SDN is a rapidly emerging set of scalable, flexible technologies that have networking vendors, cloud service providers, enterprise IT, and industry pundits all sitting up and taking notice. The worldwide SDN market for the enterprise and cloud service provider segments is forecast to grow from $360 million in 2013 to a robust $3.7 billion by 2016. This forecast for the SDN ecosystem includes the associated network infrastructure, SDN applications and control plane solutions, and SDN-related professional services. “SDN’s ability to decouple network logic and policies from the underlying network equipment allows for a more programmable network,” said Rohit Mehra, vice president for network infrastructure at IDC. “Providing better alignment with the underlying applications, this programmability allows for greater levels of flexibility, innovation, and control in the network. Logic and policies that can be defined, changed, and modified result in a more dynamic network, providing the scale network administrators so desperately crave.” Software-defined networking (SDN) has brought innovation and change to the networking market. In many respects, SDN is riding the wave of a “perfect storm,” with several market and technology factors converging:

? Growth of cloud services/applications ? Focus on converged infrastructures (compute/storage/network) and on the software-defined datacenter ? Lessons learned (and benefits derived) from server virtualization ? Customer frustration with the network’s inability to provide the flexibility required to support virtualization, cloud, and mobility

SDN also presents a tremendous opportunity as many large and small incumbent vendors strategize on how to deliver on the SDN promise. In addition, a number of start-up companies have launched their portfolios or are in advanced pilots and trial deployments across a wide cross-section of customers, including enterprises and cloud providers. “For many of the SDN-related solution providers, some of them still in stealth-mode, 2013 is likely to be a year of reckoning,” said Brad Casemore, research director at Datacenter Networks. IDC has identified five emerging SDN start ups to watch as they battle for position amongst each other, and against existing players in this evolving market.

1. Big Switch Networks — Big Switch Networks bills itself as the “leader in Open Software-Defined Networking,” reflecting its commitment to an SDN platform that is based on industry standards, open application programming interfaces (APIs), and open source software.

2. Embrane — Embrane’s heleos — a multi-service, distributed software architecture — delivers virtual Layer 3-7 network services for both traditional and software-defined networks (SDNs).

3. Midokura — Midokura’s vision involves employing network virtualization to provide a flexible, customizable, and adaptable network infrastructure for cloud service providers and enterprises.

4. Plexxi Inc. — Plexxi’s product portfolio features Plexxi Control, a server-based software controller that allows service providers and enterprises to model affinities between workload resources and to ensure that the underlying network supports them.

5. Vello Systems — Vello Systems provides software infrastructure for building large-scale networks that optimize the locality of application workloads and corresponding data.

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