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SA left behind on the SDN adoption curve

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Software-defined networking (SDN) is taking the world by storm as organisations seek greater control, performance and management across the data centre and the network; and recognise the benefits SDN can offer in terms of cost savings on capital and operating costs, improved network performance, increased productivity, and improved security.
However, new research shows South Africa is behind the adoption curve. First Technology and Extreme Networks recently polled 200 South African business respondents, including six CIOs, 43 C-suite executives, 70 IT managers and 81 IT professionals on their views on SDN and the cloud, which is closely aligned with SDN.
Johan de Villiers, MD of First Technology, unpacks the results:
Surprisingly, 30,5% of respondents said they didn’t know what SDN was; 27,38% had no plans to adopt an SDN strategy, and 11,81% did not believe SDN would benefit them; 48,11% said their companies were currently embarking on SDN strategies, and 24,06% said their companies were already SDN-enabled.
In a market expected to top $132-billion globally by 2022, South Africa is lagging, even though local survey respondents said their top network priorities right now were performance (35,42%) and security (33,96%) – all areas where advanced new SDN platforms offer solutions.
The majority of respondents believed their companies were somewhat ready (41,06%) or completely ready (38,16%) ready for SDN. However, 20,77% said their companies were not ready for SDN.
South African IT professionals who had no SDN strategy reported that complexity (47,26%) and cost (40,93%) stood in the way of adoption.
As SDN maturity is closely linked with cloud adoption, South African respondents were also asked about their companies’ current level of cloud adoption.
The largest proportion (37,71%) reported some private cloud use, while 16.,53% reported some hybrid cloud use, 15,68% said they made some use of public cloud, and only 14,83% reported that their companies made extensive use of the cloud. Meanwhile, 15,25% reported that their companies made no use of the cloud at all.
Respondents said the main factors hampering their companies’ optimal use of cloud technologies were security concerns (35,12%), control and management concerns (27,09%), cost (26,76%) and limitations caused by existing infrastructure (11,04%).
In the South African survey, respondents believed the top benefits of SDN were centralised security (22,77%), centralised network provisioning (22,28%), lower operating costs (15,35%), holistic enterprise management (12,87%), cloud abstraction (8,17%) and guaranteed content delivery (6,93%). These results are in line with international trends, where SDN’s benefits are well recognised.