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NetBrain Survey Separates SDN Hype From Reality

April 17, 2018

No argument, SDN is the wave of the future and provides increased networking power to organizations struggling to achieve greater agility for application deployment. The promise of what SDN can deliver in terms of business performance has organizations motivated to make the transition.

NetBrain recently surveyed network  engineers ― not analysts or pundits, but those actually responsible for managing the network ― about their experience with SDN. We wanted to distinguish reality from hype as it applied to SDN integrations. Specifically, we wanted to learn what effect SDN is having on operational workflows.

  • Is SDN helping or hurting your operation?
  • Are you spending more or less time managing the daily workflows that come with maintaining a corporate network?
  • And perhaps most important, has your job gotten easier or harder?

Our results found that while excitement is high, actual implementation has a bit of catching up to do. Key takeaways:

  • 44% of respondents indicated that it was either a critical business initiative with executive support or an important IT objective.
  • 21% indicated that they were still “investigating” SDN.
  • Slightly more than 78% indicated that less than half of their data center and core network is currently software defined.
  • Nearly half (48%) , indicated that less than a quarter of their network was SDN capable at this point in time

As with any new, high-powered technology there is always a learning curve, a few potential flaws and the integration and adoption period is never as easy as it’s made it out to be. Network teams must now understand this new architecture and manage it effectively along with the rest of the legacy network it connects to. In fact, our survey found that managing such an evolving heterogeneous network has proven to be very challenging.

When it came to critical workflows such as troubleshooting the network:

  • A significant number of survey respondents, 28%, indicated that it had become either harder, or much harder in an SDN environment.
  • In addition to becoming more difficult, another 31% indicated that traditional methods of troubleshooting, e.g., manually through the CLI, would no longer be feasible in a new hybrid environment.

The results of our survey show that there is genuine excitement about the potential of SDN. It’s clear that the potential is enormous and companies are poised to realize tangible business benefits from its implementation. However, SDN can introduce significant operational challenges. There are visibility gaps that impact all workflows, especially troubleshooting.

ACI-physical-networkVisualizing both the SDN fabric (here, Cisco ACI) and its connection to the legacy non-SDN network is crucial.

NetBrain’s Dynamic Network Maps and automation technologies can help demystify the complexity of SDN infrastructure to help bridge these gaps. If you are struggling to keep pace with your operational workflows during the SDN onboarding process, talk to us. We can be the partner that simplifies the day-to-day responsibilities while you focus on your more strategic goals.


Learn more in this blog previewing NetBrain’s integration with Cisco ACI.