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Pica8 2017 Predictions: Security, IoT, Enterprise Needs Will Impact SDN in 2017

VMblog Predictions 2017

Virtualization and Cloud executives share their predictions for 2017.  Read them in this 9th annual VMblog.com series exclusive.

Contributed by James Liao who leads strategy and growth efforts for Pica8

Security, IoT, Enterprise Needs Will Impact SDN in 2017

Here are five predictions for 2017:

1. Security will dominate the SDN application landscape

Not surprisingly, security will dominate the landscape for SDN applications. Segmentation, access, security monitoring, traffic control and quarantine - being able to control the network when something goes bad has always been a critical requirement. More and more companies will look to SDN - mainly as a technology enabler - to integrate with their existing security tools, applications, and strategy.  And this will be the number one driver for SDN in the coming year.

2. The importance of specific SDN protocols will diminish

The importance of specific SDN protocols will diminish. We have seen many of our customers build different SDN solutions with different protocols (OpenFlow, OVSDB, NetConf, etc.) in all networking applications. We will continue to see the OpenFlow protocol in Blue Ocean SDN solutions such as Network Visibility, Video, and Backbone Gateways, but it's not the panacea, nor will it be the primary factor in the purchasing decision.

3.  Enterprises will adopt white box switches

Enterprise needs plus market maturation will finally mean that white box switching will move into enterprise deployments. More enterprises are requiring more levels of programmability and customization for their data center applications. Whether it's on-premises cloud, security, monitoring, or management, making the network dynamic for a specific application is hard to achieve with legacy equipment that locks a company into a single vendor.

As for market maturation, there are now clear players in the white box space - both for hardware providers and the software NOS. There are also well-known brands backing these products, such as Dell and HPE. This gives enterprise buyers more peace of mind when it comes to reliability and support for their data center infrastructure. I think we will see some interesting stories come out about Fortune 500 companies going with disaggregated white box options in their data centers.

4.  IoT will force SDN adoption into Campus Networks

Typically overlooked, campus networks are about to get much more leading edge in terms of SDN flexibility and production. White box options for non-data center environments are becoming more widespread.  Features such as PoE, centralized management, stacking, identity and access management controls are making their way onto data sheets for white box switches with disaggregated NOS. Also, SDN is becoming more critical to managing and controlling these networks. If we consider the major trends in these environments - IoT, connected unmanaged devices, mobility, and security - it stands to reason that it's a top requirement to be able to segment and control network access and policy in a simplified way. SDN is a perfect way to aggregate this information, and the solutions that make this job easier for the overworked enterprise network operator are going to land some big wins.

5.  One of the top 5 networking vendors (not Brocade) will be acquired

With Cisco moving more and more into the hyper-converged infrastructure space, I think a major player will look to bolster its portfolio with a strong networking play in the coming year. The move to cloud is driving the majority of the network vendor acquisition movement, and cloud infrastructure providers will continue to look long and hard at networking to see what fits the right gap in their portfolios. The networking player that best positions itself for the cloud (with integration with virtual networks, integration with servers and storage, and the right hooks for SDN, applications and the ecosystem) will be a prime candidate for this move. 

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About the Author

James Liao leads strategy and growth efforts for Pica8 as it shapes the SDN space. He has a proven track record in networking product innovation and development: before founding Pica8, James led product strategy for switching and data center products at original device manufacturer Quanta. He also built world-class engineering teams at both Woven Systems and 3UP Systems. Born in Taiwan, James holds an MS in Computer Science from Stanford University.

James Liao 

Published Thursday, November 10, 2016 7:01 AM by David Marshall
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