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When it comes to new technologies, some are deployed quickly and very visibly (for example: most mobile initiatives). But for many others, they go through a kind of stealth deployment, where organizations may not be actively adopting the technology — but before they know it, it’s already a vital part of their infrastructure.

We saw this with virtualization, with cloud, and now, with Software-defined Networks (SDN). Talk to a lot of businesses, and, in many cases, if you ask them about their use of SDN, they’ll say they’ve only started looking at it, or at best have some small pilot implementations in place. Read the full report

However, if you dig just a little deeper into their IT infrastructures, you’ll start to see SDN popping up in a lot of their key systems. That’s because many of the key vendors, applications, and providers that they are using have already made heavy use of SDN throughout their systems.

Aberdeen saw this phenomenon quite clearly at the 2017 VMWorld Conference. Yes, at a conference dedicated to virtualization and cloud — not networking — SDN was being used by a large number of vendors. From cloud connectivity systems, to infrastructure management environments, to Cloud and hosting providers, SDN was a key technology driver helping these offerings be agile, flexible, and able to integrate with how modern infrastructures are built and stay connected.

This isn’t just anecdotal. Aberdeen research shows that SDN adoption has grown steadily over the last few years, to the point where 31% of organizations are now leveraging SDN within their infrastructures. And these businesses are seeing excellent results from their use of SDN. These organizations are more innovative, agile, and efficient — and are seeing a significant return on their SDN investment.

Taking Advantage of SDN’s “Advantages”

Software-defined networking, despite its name, is not just about networking. By bringing a programmable layer to traditional static and inflexible networks, it enables businesses to create more agile and flexible infrastructures that also make it easier to leverage other new technologies and leading management processes.

In the chart below, we compare businesses that have implemented SDN to those that have yet to take this step. Looking at this data, we see that SDN-enabled businesses gain a significant edge when it comes to improved management, increased infrastructure efficiencies, and the ability to take advantage of other new technologies. For example, organizations with SDN are 48% more likely to have real-time alerts in place for monitoring their vital applications and processes. With SDN, the ability to monitor and track these services anywhere, and at any time, is greatly improved.

Most impressively, we find that these organizations didn’t end their innovation with SDN. Across the board, these SDN-enabled businesses are more likely to be implementing other new technologies. They are more than twice as likely to use hybrid cloud, and they are 75% more likely to have deployed Software-defined Storage and hyper-converged systems.

The Increased Innovation and Capabilities of
SDN-enabled Businesses

The rise of SDN has been many years in the making. And today’s businesses will need to have a plan to get the most out of the rise of SDN. They may aggressively move to adopt and get the most out of it. Or they may just deploy and use lots of other products that just happen to be based on SDN. Either way, their networks will move from static and inflexible, to agile and adaptable. Aberdeen research shows that by adopting SDN, businesses not only improve their ability to leverage other emerging technologies, they also reduce costs, improve performance and reliability, and become more agile and innovative.

SDN may not be an overnight success. But we are definitely moving to a world where an organization’s success may depend on how advanced their network infrastructure is.

For a deeper dive into how the Best-in-Class leverage SDN to stay ahead of the game, read Jim Rapoza’s full report.