How SDN can help your business transform and grow

Published: Jul 02, 2018
Author: Oliver Cantor


In this age of digital transformation and accelerated change, every business is under mounting pressure to embrace reinvention and focus on innovation. But what does that mean in practice? How do you manage a whole bunch of new projects and experiments that may or may not prove to be the key to accelerating your growth while keeping your existing business on the road at the same time?

We believe a more fluid and agile IT infrastructure is a crucial part of the answer to this challenge. Disruptive new entrants have no legacy IT structures to manage and can scale their businesses up or down almost at will. But for the rest of us, from the retailer trialling pop-up stores to the manufacturer experimenting with as-a-service business models, IT is often a brake on innovation. Each new venture requires painstaking work to recode all your devices, reconfigure services, coordinate service providers and activate the network. By the time you’ve done all that, your more nimble competitors are miles ahead.

SDN enables organizations to virtualize and automate their network operations.  This is why we’re seeing take-up of software-defined networking (SDN) accelerating so rapidly. In our latest research, which surveyed 165 senior IT leaders from around the world, almost nine in 10 (87%) said SDN technologies will enable them to deploy new applications, services and infrastructure more rapidly.


Simplifying the system


The drivers for change are both technical and practical. As organizations migrate more and more of their IT infrastructure to cloud solutions, whether public or private, and add ever greater numbers of devices and applications to their networks, SDN provides a means with which to simplify the management of this complex ecosystem with a more centralized and automated system of control.

Above all, it is possible to push policies and reconfigurations out to all devices in the network simultaneously, rather than having to physically visit each site.
This benefit is a means to an end, of course. The simplicity and control that SDN offers enables you to move towards your targeted business outcomes much more rapidly than in the past. As the network function is virtualized, you can spin new services up or down as the business need dictates, trialling innovation and then implementing change across your business or moving on to the next project according to the results.

It’s hard to understate the importance of this agility. In the new world, speed to market is everything. The disruptors and innovators now threatening to take your market share are quick-paced and nimble because they are built on flexible IT infrastructure designed from the start to support growth through experimentation. They well understand that many incumbents do not have the ability to scale up or down at pace and in many different directions.

We’re convinced that SDN technologies provide a means with which to counter this threat. They offer even the largest organization the ability to manage secure and efficient networks and, ultimately, to deliver the world-class experience their customers now demand.

Our latest research suggests respondents share our view. They’re already exploring further implementations and within two years, more than half (57%) will have adopted SDN in at least some parts of their business.


Widespread benefits


This is going to become ever more crucial as the millennial generation – and its successors – come to dominate the global economy. Your customers will expect to be able to do business with you across any channel at any time, and to have their needs catered for instantly and personally.

This on-demand culture is difficult to manage even for the most agile organizations, but if you’re struggling with legacy IT structures meeting the challenge is even tougher. It will simply take too long to pivot and flex your business to your customers’ needs; they will go elsewhere.

Many organizations recognize that SDN is fast-becoming a crucial enabler of innovation, as businesses look for new sources of growth in the evolving marketplace. Network virtualization drives speed and flexibility, but also enables you to manage change without jeopardizing security and resilience – and to stay in control of the cost of transformation.


Early adoption, early gains


It is these gains that underpin the accelerated roll-out of SDN that many organizations now look forward to – our research suggests that among the first movers in particular, significant numbers now anticipate implementing SDN solutions throughout their businesses over the next two years.

In our view, early adoption has the potential to generate significant edge for your businesses. The bottom line is that SDN represents an opportunity to secure competitive advantage, even for large incumbent operators in industries now threatened by disruption.

View some of our customer case studies to find out how Verizon is helping businesses through their transformation journey with SDN and Network Function Virtualization.