ARN spoke to Citrix senior manager netscaler, Phil Caleno, about the emergence of software-defined networking in the Australian market.
1. How mature is software-defined networking in Australia and what industries and sectors of the market are leading the charge in this arena?
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When it comes to SDN adoption in Australia, the majority of enterprises embracing it today are large organisations that possess the flexibility needed to execute the required network changes. From our conversations with customers we expect to see that change as we move in to 2016, with businesses speaking about when they will deploy SDN, rather than if, with many looking to roll-out platforms from next-year. The pace of SDN adoption in Australia compared to larger markets, like the US, doesn't surprise us given the difference in the sizes of the networks used -- where the networks are bigger there is a stronger business case for SDN given the benefits it delivers.
2. Where is the biggest opportunity for the channel around the shift to software-defined networking?
Channel partners and re-sellers that build and offer SDN starter kits for customers will get a huge head start on the competition in this emerging sector. Having a suite of SDN technologies -- including an agile network controller offering strong compute abilities and application management, and an extensible network virtualisation framework -- ready to go will be a draw for businesses looking to rapidly deploy and benefit from SDN.
SDN is fast becoming a crowded marketplace too, meaning the channel partners and re-sellers who step up and guide customers through their journeys by identifying the best use cases and solutions stand to make the most gains.
3. How is this shift changing the skills needed for channel partners to succeed in this space?
While we're still in the early days of SDN adoption there is a strong requirement for channel partners to fulfil a business and technology consulting role, specifically around people management. SDN changes the way IT interacts with the rest of the business, and in some instances is impacting policies that have been in place for years. Being able to support businesses in managing this organisational change and its impact on the workforce is a critical capability.
Additionally, channel partners that are able to fully understand the business impact of SDN and identify opportunities accordingly will achieve the most success. Getting to grips with SDN today positions channel partners ahead of the curve so that they can build business cases that organisations will want to trial so that they in turn can get ahead of the market.
4. What are the biggest challenges in moving to a software defined networking approach?
Alongside managing organisational change, which we've already discussed, the biggest challenge created by SDN is being able to manage the various interfaces of the network orchestration platforms used -- it's a significantly different approach to the way people are used to managing their networks. Therefore, as SDN gains traction in the enterprise, we expect to see people with traditional computer science backgrounds play an increasingly influential role in business management. These skilled professionals understand how different systems interact with one another, and so can manage networks accordingly.
5. What is driving the shift to a software-defined approach?
Businesses understanding that SDN minimises organisational risk while enabling improved agility is driving adoption. By automating network management, including the applications it hosts, SDN drives down costs, reduces the time needed to implement change, and increases security. These three capabilities align with most organisations' main business objectives, therefore increasing SDN's value to an organisation.
6.Any other points - trends etc?
Business will not linger over its decision to deploy SDN, as has sometimes been the case with Cloud and Big Data where they have continually evaluated whether it's right for them. As soon as businesses see how SDN can benefit their organisation, including saving time and money, they will quickly decide whether it is right for them and make plans accordingly. This is why it's crucial for channel partners to build SDN suites that can rapidly be deployed from today.