SDN in 2014: More Adoption and More Money for Vendors

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Cisco ramping up its SDN vision with ACI in 2014.

No networking vendor in the world is bigger than Cisco and Cisco has perhaps the most to gain or lose from the SDN revolution. During Cisco's recent financial analyst day event, CEO John Chambers noted that SDN plays to all of his company's strengths. Cisco has a number of SDN-related initiatives under way, including its Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) architecture. In 2013, Cisco announced and introduced ACI, but so far only the Nexus 9000 hardware switch is actually available for customers to order. The bigger piece of the puzzle will be the Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC), which is set to debut in the first half of 2014.

Software-defined networking (SDN) emerged in 2013 to be one of the hottest trends in networking. SDN wasn’t invented in 2013, it's a concept that has its roots in a Stanford University thesis co-authored by Martin Casado in 2005, "The Virtual Network System." The term SDN emerged in 2009. Ironically, Casado, the man who helped to create the SDN revolution, said in a video interview earlier this year that he no longer knew what the term SDN meant, because the definition has blurred as networking vendors big and small adopt the term to fit their own definition.

At its core, SDN is about agility and flexibility in networking topology, separating out the data packet flow logic that had traditionally only resided within networking hardware chassis. In a typical SDN model, the data packet flow paths are defined by a software-based controller, while data flows across both physical hardware as well as virtual software switches, in what is known as an overlay model. The SDN market is still a relatively young one, and 2014 is likely to be a year of growth as technologies mature and vendors aim to deliver on their promises. In this slideshow, ITBE takes a look at the SDN market as it ends 2013 and its outlook for 2014.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist


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