This article is part of our Essential Guide: Essential guide to optimising hybrid IT infrastructure

Enterprise SDN adoption rapidly approaching tipping point, claims report

A study commissioned by networking solutions supplier Riverbed claims that legacy networks are causing problems for businesses trying to undergo digital transformation, and more decision makers are considering SDN as a result

The vast majority of IT decision makers will have begun to eliminate their legacy networking infrastructure in favour of adopting a software-defined networking (SDN) model by 2021, suggesting that the technology is fast approaching a tipping point, according to a study conducted for software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) specialist Riverbed.

Its Future of networking study canvassed 1,000 IT leaders in nine countries, and found virtually unanimous agreement that legacy networks were starting to cause enterprises significant pain because they were holding back wider digitisation programmes and cloud adoption.

In total, 98% of those quizzed agreed that next-generation networks were critical to keep up with business, 97% agreed that legacy networks were struggling to keep pace with changing demands, and 91% said their cloud strategies could only reach their potential with a next-generation networking underlay.

Just under 60% said they were having to firefight cloud issues resulting from legacy network failures at least once a month.

As a result of this, 93% said their organisations planned to trade up to SD-WAN in the next four years to help manage cloud and hybrid networks, something just 4% were taking advantage of right now.

To some extent, this data reflects the findings of the most recent Computer Weekly/TechTarget IT Priorities report, which indicated that the idea SDN was struggling to gain traction outside of major telecoms operators and enterprises with widely distributed sites or campus networks – something that now looks set to change.

“This survey and the resulting data reveal the tremendous pressure that IT decision makers are under to execute their cloud strategies, achieve digital transformation and keep pace with the speed of innovation that is the norm in today’s hypercompetitive markets,” said Jerry Kennelly, co-founder and CEO at Riverbed.

“It was almost unanimous that to have a successful cloud strategy, organisations must adopt next-gen software-defined networking immediately to support it. Riverbed is dedicated to ensuring this transformation is successful and that organisations are able to achieve the operational agility needed to thrive through the use of SD-WAN for cloud networking.”

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Riverbed’s report found that the gap between the understanding of the need to refresh legacy networks and the actual deployment of SDN played out consistently across multiple verticals, from financial services and retail to energy, manufacturing and utilities, and even communications and IT services businesses.

The survey also showed that IT decision makers would be willing to sacrifice a lot if it meant they no longer needed to spend so much time tinkering with dysfunctional network infrastructure; 54% said they’d suffer a longer commute, 53% would take a shorter lunch break, and 42% would give up coffee. The full survey results can be downloaded here.

Read more on Software-defined networking (SDN)