ISG: As Demand for SDN Grows, Enterprises Turn to Service Providers for Help

Enterprises are looking to software-defined networking technologies to reduce networking costs, become more agile, better serve customers, and support employee remote working, according to a new market report released by Information Services Group (ISG). Many new SDN-related technologies, methods and processes are in a trial stage, according to ISG.

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As business demand for software defined networking (SDN) technology grows, suppliers of SDN solutions and services are experimenting with a variety of innovative products and services, according to the ‘ISG Provider Lens Networks – Software Defined Solutions and Services Archetype Report’.

Many service providers are focusing on production-ready installations, while others specialize in SDN services like edge networking or private enterprise 5G, according to the ISG report.

“Many new SDN-related technologies, methods and processes are in a trial stage,” said Dieter Thompson, president, ISG Network Solutions. “This evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, approach, taken together with the relative newness of SD networking, suggests there’s significant volatility in the SD networking provider market that’s likely to intensify in the near future.”

‘Archetypes’ Searching for SDN-related Technologies

The ‘ISG Provider Lens Networks – Software Defined Solutions and Services Archetype Report’ evaluates provider capabilities based on several customer categories, or archetypes, that are searching for SDN-related technologies. The research assesses 46 SDN providers’ ability to offer services to the four archetypes:

Moderate Transformers – These customers are often mid- to large-sized businesses with their own data centers and some, but not necessarily extensive, expertise sourcing or hosting services. They may still be on the road to business-focused and integrated solutions, with a clear goal and plan to leverage networks to differentiate businesses and enhance performance and costs. They’ll almost always be headed for SD networks and multi-cloud setups.

Their IT and network groups will look for new technologies that have a clear value proposition or answer specific business problems, or when other business sectors push them to embrace them. For these purchasers, cost savings over current network models will be a major motivator, and they will shop around for the greatest pricing and performance.

Aggressive Adopters – These clients are likely to be mid- to large-sized businesses with extensive expertise sourcing services. They’ve evolved from traditional compartmentalized solutions, and networks will no longer be a separate role, but rather one that works in tandem with the rest of IT to allow business differentiation. They’ve already implemented SD networks and multi-cloud setups, or are on their way to doing so. They will have a transformation roadmap and will be under pressure to move quickly to migrate from MPLS/IP-centric carrier plans to SD-based solutions.

These clients will seek for best-of-breed, fully managed solutions from across the industry in order to save costs while meeting company objectives such as increasing revenue growth and enhancing customer experience, as well as enabling a remote workforce.

Advanced Edge Adopters – These clients might be mid- to large-sized businesses with a lot of expertise with managed services consumption. They recognize the value and need of edge/branch and multi-cloud networks, and they want to shift more functions and computing to the edge, as well as use mobile edge as a differentiator, allowing for greater flexibility and remote working. They’ll have a transformation roadmap, and they’ll be under pressure to implement it quickly, moving more functions and computing resources to the edge and away from centralized resources.

These customers will evaluate best-of-breed, fully managed solutions from across the industry and select one that will help them meet business objectives such as faster service and transportation delivery, improved customer service and experience, and the ability to operate with a distributed workforce.

Disruption Embracers and Bleeding Edge Companies – These companies are tiny to mid-sized, have less internal resources, and are usually ‘born digital’ with no substantial legacy infrastructure. They have SD-WAN deployments to support modern, managed networks, perhaps with SD-LAN, SD-WLAN, and branch/edge solutions, with ready-to-deploy or current multi-cloud-based, disruptive apps, which they can easily consume as DIY, co-managed, or managed services. They are satisfied with ‘best of breed’ solutions, technologies, or services in specific sub-areas of their overall network, but they will want robust orchestration and single-pane-of-glass monitoring and administration capabilities.

Photo Dieter Thompson, president, ISG Network Solutions
“Many new SDN-related technologies, methods and processes are in a trial stage,” said Dieter Thompson, president, ISG Network Solutions.

They are usually not seeking for a lot of help from their vendors, but they are searching for good prices on equipment and services. Their approach is around increasing income while also enhancing flexibility and agility.

The ISG Provider Lens Quadrant research series currently covers providers offering their services globally, across Europe, as well as in the U.S., Germany, Switzerland, the U.K., France, the Nordics, Brazil and Australia/New Zealand, with additional markets to be added in the future.

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