With traditional network architectures struggling to cope with more dynamic applications and services, software-defined networking (SDN) provides the answer to operators’ challenges, according to research firm Ovum. The company believes SDN will be key in enabling future networks to become more flexible, scalable and intelligent.
Speaking at Broadband World Forum in October this year, Ulf Ewaldsson, CTO of equipment vendor Ericsson, said the explosive growth in cloud technology was spurring the requirement for SDN specifications for service providers and telcos. His views have been reinforced by an Ovum report, which examines the vendor and product landscape of the SDN market.
The report reveals that the three-tier hierarchy (access, aggregation, and core) of network architecture is being replaced by flatter architectures. In addition, virtualised application software is replacing network appliances, and network infrastructure is becoming much more programmable.
“SDN has already had a major impact on the communications industry by providing a focal point for a revitalised interest in networking,” says David Krozier, principal analyst in Ovum’s Network Infrastructure Telecoms team. “SDN provides an opportunity to completely re-examine network architectures, introduce virtualisation, and provide truly innovative solutions.”
The report adds that a move to SDN places more focus to the intelligence inherent in the network, rather than the feeds and speeds of data. Instead of crafting applications to operate within the constraints of the network, with SDN the network will dynamically adapt to provide the connectivity services that best serve the application.
“It’s too early in the evolution of SDN to draw conclusions about which approach will win or the exact architecture of future networks as there is too much innovation yet to happen, and vendors and their customers have yet to reach a common agenda,” said Krozier. “But the search by vendors and network operators to find a better approach will eventually produce networks that are much more flexible in providing new services and monetizing the network, and more efficient in their use of resources.”
Will regulators ever be able to catch up with the rate of change in the telco/tech industry?
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