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Software-Defined Networking Success High but Investment Still Slow
March, 2017

Early adopters of software-defined networking are finding great return on investment (ROI) and total cost of ownership (TCO) compared to the 11 other technologies in our full Technology Trends 2017 study. But despite the early success, it appears the majority of organizations are slow to hop on the software-defined networking (SDN) bandwagon.  

Figure 1 from our full report, Software-Defined Networking Adoption Trends and Customer Experience, shows that ROI, TCO, and satisfaction success is very high, but future investment is very low.


In simple terms, SDN abstracts all of the higher-level control functions from network hardware based on rules provided by the software. In theory, this enables administrators to control the network without having to touch a router. It makes the network easier to manage, automate, and reconfigure. Network administrators can respond to changing demand in the network just as they can “spin up” virtual servers or storage to respond to changes in application demand.

“SDN is the final piece of the puzzle for a fully virtualized data center,” said David Wagner, vice president for research at Computer Economics, an IT research firm based in Irvine, Calif. “Companies with the expertise and resources can take advantage of its potential cost savings and flexibility. However, it does require special skills and a deep understanding of the demand that applications and users place on the network. Because of this, some organizations just aren’t ready for SDN. We expect SDN to grow slowly while companies build this knowledge, but eventually we believe it will mature and become a normal part of every network.”

The full report quantifies the current adoption and investment trends for SDN as well as the benefits driving companies to expand their SDN implementations. We also measure customer experience in terms of the success rates for ROI and TCO of SDN initiatives, along with current investment levels. We conclude with practical advice for planning new investments in SDN.


This Research Byte is based on our report on this subject, Software-Defined Networking Adoption Trends and Customer Experience. The full report is available at no charge for Computer Economics clients, or it may be purchased by non-clients directly from our website (click for pricing).

Questions about this research? Contact the Analyst.


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