SDN Vendors Must Control Expectations as Well as the Technology

Carl Weinschenk
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Embracing the Software-Defined Future: Looking Ahead at 2015

The current state of the software-defined network (SDN) sector: plenty of surveys predicting fast growth and one high-profile study that illustrates the dangers of fast growth on a category’s long-term image.

Here is what people are saying:

The downside to these extravagant expectations is that often the hype is greater than what the technology can actually provide. In late July, Gartner released its latest Hype Cycle. As the name implies, the organization understands that technology approaches often resonant with observers quickly, while the actual technology lags behind. This sets everyone—vendors, service providers, and the rest of the ecosystem—up for disappointment. The goal of the Hype Cycle is to predict and quantify this disappointment by measuring and categorizing the gap of what is being said about a technology and the reality at that moment.

The news on this front was not good for SDN, according to The Register, the Hype Cycle…

…suggests software-defined networking (SDN) has arrived at the trough of disillusionment, meaning that people for whom it has no appeal beyond marketing will give up and leave the technology for those that actually need it.

Techniques and technologies associated with SDN, such as virtual switches, SD-wide area networks (SD-WANs) and SDN applications, fare much better than the core technology. This may say as much about the Hype Cycle approach and the people whose opinions are included as it does about SDNs.

Indeed, overwrought expectations are a part of the landscape for any ambitious new technology. In the world of SDN and NFV, however, vendors and others in the ecosystem should work with extra diligence to keep expectations under control. The promise is great, and that means that disappointment will be just as extreme. That’s a big deal in a sector that touches on the very fabric of the organization.


Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at cweinsch@optonline.net and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.



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