How to Take Advantage of the Shift to SDN

Keith Shaw
How to Take Advantage of the Shift to SDN

A change as fundamental as the shift to software-defined networking infrastructures doesn’t just happen in a moment. But it is happening now. Software-defined networking (SDN) is at the core of many virtualized network infrastructures and has gone through a lot of maturing to become a mainstream technology.

The question for service providers and enterprises is how and where to best make the move, because adopting SDN technology isn’t just a way to improve network agility, efficiency and reduce cost, it’s becoming a necessity to compete. A network- and cloud-rich global interconnection platform offers major advantages for companies deploying SDN solutions, including more providers, better security and fewer geographic limitations.

Companies looking to rearchitect and refresh their legacy networks need that kind of reach and choice when they’re working to take advantage of the flexibility SDN offers.

A fast-growing market

The easiest way to explain SDN is to start by breaking the fundamentals of traditional networking into its “brains” (the control plane inside networking hardware) and its “muscle” (the forwarding plane in that hardware that propels the traffic forward). SDN replaces a network’s brains with a software application called a controller, and big advantages come with this.

For instance, administrators that route traffic through a network now aren’t restrained by the limitations of working through physical pieces of hardware (typically costly, specialized network appliances) that are bound to particular locations at particular times. Instead, administrators can create their own networks in real-time by directing traffic, on-demand, to a range of destinations from a centralized control console. It’s far more efficient, agile and cost-effective, and because of this, companies are moving toward SDN in a hurry.

According to IDC, the data center SDN market will expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25.4% between 2016 and 2021, when it will hit $13.8 billion. Separate research by The Insight Partners projects an even faster CAGR (nearly 32%) through to 2025, when the SDN market will hit nearly $24 billion.

Maximizing SDN benefits

Companies turning to SDN can maximize the benefits of the technology on Equinix’s global interconnection and colocation data center platform, Platform Equinix™. We have 1,700 networks that reach across 48 markets on five continents to choose from, so the options for enterprises that are looking to switch out networking hardware and become more SDN-enabled are exceptionally rich. That selection and geographic range are major assets if your IT organization wants to efficiently expand your company’s interconnection reach to the edge of your corporate network or access the “last mile” to connect with the most end users possible. Platform Equinix also offers significant opportunity if you’re a service provider looking to distribute and expand your Points of Presence (PoPs), because it hosts 9,800 companies from a variety of industries.

Consider also that Platform Equinix is home to 2,900+ cloud and IT service providers and the Equinix Cloud Exchange™ (ECX) Fabric. The SDN-based ECX Fabric physically and virtually links all our vendor-neutral Equinix International Exchange™ (IBX®) data centers in the U.S. and EMEA, with more coming online in Asia-Pacific this year. It enables any of our customers to dynamically connect their own infrastructure across Equinix IBX locations or connect to any other customer on the Equinix global platform. Say a customer has access to a public cloud deployed in Amsterdam, but not London. With ECX Fabric, they can still consume their cloud services of choice in London through an SDN link we provide between the London and Amsterdam IBX facilities. This kind of interconnection not only securely takes our customers to the digital edge globally, it creates fertile ground for collaboration and innovation among the digital industry ecosystems that grow and thrive on our platform.

One example of a customer who found Equinix was the right choice when it wanted to increase its SDN capabilities is KCOM, the United Kingdom-based network services provider and systems integrator. KCOM helps private and public organizations navigate the disruption caused by rapid changes in technology and customer expectations and realize strategic transformation goals. KCOM wanted to use SDN technology to reduce its PoPs and improve efficiency. The company also wanted to better manage its various platforms, gain more access to advanced technology and increase its ability to scale.

After looking at a variety of options, KCOM chose to work with Huawei, who is also an Equinix partner. KCOM believes that Huawei, one of the world’s premier manufacturers of telecoms hardware, has better quality equipment and services than its competitors, and that Equinix’s global reach and the capabilities of the ECX Fabric gave Equinix the edge over other colocation options. KCOM teamed with Huawei and got better value from the PoPs it ended up keeping and locating with Equinix because of the cloud density and global presence it could access through the ECX Fabric. KCOM can use the capabilities of Platform Equinix to quickly expand or reach partners and users all over the world, depending on the demands of its business.

Companies making the move to SDN will find Platform Equinix is built to match the flexibility and agility of this technology. Read more about Platform Equinix in our vision paper.


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