2015 IT priorities: SDN yet to prove itself, fear of network hacks growing

In Computer Weekly’s 2015 IT priorities study, software-defined networking is still behind management and monitoring as a networking priority

Software-defined networking (SDN) is all the rage among suppliers, but when it comes to deployments in the wild, IT buyers around Europe are still hanging back from the technology due to a lack of understanding, with the UK lagging particularly far behind.

This was one of the key findings in the Computer Weekly/TechTarget 2015 IT priorities study, an in-depth look at the budgets and purchasing plans of enterprise IT buyers from around the world.

A software-defined network can be defined essentially as one in which control has been decoupled from the hardware and passed over to a software application, or controller.

Advocates of this approach to the network say it brings benefits in terms of network administration and traffic shaping, allowing centralised control and a more granular view of what is going on in the network, which is particularly helpful in a multi-tenanted cloud architecture.

But in the UK, the study found that just 2% of IT buyers were planning to implement SDN in their networks in 2015, as the technology is still seen as very much in its infancy, with reference customers still thin on the ground.

Globally, the picture for SDN was more encouraging, with around 15% expecting to implement it this year, reflecting increased appetite for the technology in Asia-Pacific, where 21% of buyers said they planned to implement it.

Read more about IT spending priorities

Monitoring and management highlights hacker concerns

The huge number of high-profile hacks and data breaches during the past 12 months would appear to have given rise to more concern around network management and, importantly, monitoring, according to the 2015 IT priorities research.

Here, 32% of buyers said they planned to implement management and monitoring technology within their companies this year, a clear indication that more people are starting to take the issue of precisely what is happening inside their core network infrastructure much more seriously.

Coupled to this, 13% were looking at mobile network monitoring and optimisation, and 21% at remote access and branch office connectivity.

Network virtualisation, at 11%; converged storage and datacentre network fabric, also at 11%; and application performance management, at 4%, all figured on the list of network priorities.

Also generating a lot of activity among UK buyers was wireless LANs, where 30% expected to expand their Wi-Fi network this year, and 22% expected to upgrade their network to 802.11ac, the latest Wi-Fi standard to hit the market.

Read more on Software-defined networking (SDN)

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