data center researchSoftware-defined networking (SDN) may change the architecture of data centers in North America and around the world in coming years as enterprises look to virtualize servers, storage and networking, according to a new report from Infonetics Research.

North American enterprises surveyed by Infonetics expect that over half the servers in their data centers will be virtualized by 2015. Over ¾ cited “improving application performance” as the primary driver for their data center investments, according to a press release.

When it comes to data center performance, North American enterprises are looking for speed first and foremost, Infonetics found, “with 66% of respondents looking at support for 10GE, 40GE, and even 100GE.”

Enterprises are “seriously evaluating SDN” in this regard, Infonetics found, though “most will wait to deploy it until they believe it’s ready for prime time.” Nonetheless, the market research company’s analysts expect SDN will be mainstream by 2017.

The field of vendors targeting the SDN market is a crowded one. Survey respondents cited Avaya, Cisco, Dell, HP, IBM, Juniper, Microsoft, Oracle and VMWare among the top SDN vendors, with Cisco receiving the most votes.

“Physical networks continue to be the foundation for the high-performance connectivity that today’s virtualized applications demand, and our latest data center study bears this out, confirming that investment in data center technologies remains robust as businesses seek to improve application performance, increase security, and reduce costs,” Infonetics’ directing analyst for data center and cloud Cliff Grossner, Ph.D, was quoted as saying.

“Virtualization is unstoppable,” he added. “With the average number of virtual machines per server hitting 30 by 2015, we look for virtual switches running on general purpose servers to become the new network edge.”

Other key findings from Infonetics’ 2013 “Data Center and SDN Strategies: North American Enterprise Survey” include:

  • Increasingly, network equipment is being purchased as part of a data-center-in-a-rack or app-in-a-rack bundle rather than as separate best-of-breed solutions for servers, storage, and networking
  • The convergence of Ethernet and Fibre Channel (FC) networks using FCoE is going slowly, with 46% of enterprises indicating they still plan to increase spending on FC technology


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