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SDN Implementations Proving Its Value: Page 2 of 2

Representatives of Google also presented case studies on SDN projects at some of its data centers, and other presenters shared their success stories.

Yet in spite of those successes, there is still reason to think through an SDN project. "SDN is perhaps a decade-long journey," said Geng Lin, CTO of networking business at Dell.

While citing some low-hanging-fruit for SDN, Lin said SDN needs to be evaluated as part of an "ecosystem" and a "business value chain" of related technology that has to be considered, from the hardware and the merchant silicon within it to the programming language that would be used to provide intelligence to control the routers and switches.

"Each player in the value chain has a role to play in order to achieve the full benefits of SDN. Everyone needs to evolve and needs to evolve collaborate," he said.

SDN is certainly maturing, notes Eric Hanselman, research director for networks at The 451 Group. "People are actually starting to apply software-defined networking broadly, and OpenFlow [specifically], to solve some real-world problems," he says. "There are real applications where SDN provides some specific benefit.”

To Lin’s point about looking at SDN in the context of the broader ecosystem, Hanselman says there has to be some integration with management,the orchestration system and other elements. But a company the size of Google can make SDN work because it "has legions of of development staff to make that happen." At the same time, he acknowledges, for many other organizations an SDN project has to be managed carefully.

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