According to the latest market study by Ovum, traditional Internet Protocol network architectures are struggling to keep pace with user demand, as applications and services become more dynamic.
Ovum believes that software-defined networking (SDN) is the answer to enabling future networks to become significantly more flexible, scalable, and intelligent.
In a new report, Ovum examines the vendor and product landscape of the SDN market, profiling 37 companies and highlights the period of extreme innovation and transformation facing networks today.
Ovum says that the conventional three-tier hierarchy -- access, aggregation, and core -- of network architecture is going away in favor of flatter architectures.
Moreover, virtualized application software is replacing network appliances, and network infrastructure is becoming much more programmable.
"SDN has already had a major impact on the communications industry by providing a focal point for a revitalized interest in networking," says David Krozier, principal analyst at Ovum.
SDN provides an opportunity to completely reexamine network architectures, introduce virtualization, and provide truly innovative solutions.
With SDN the focus of networking has moved from the feeds and speeds of the data plane to the intelligence inherent in the control plane and related network services.
What's the anticipated end-result that makes SDN so promising for networking professionals?
Ovum says that instead of crafting applications to operate within the constraints of the network, with SDN the network will dynamically adapt to provide the connectivity services that best serve the application.
"It's too early in the evolution of SDN to draw conclusions about which approach will win or the exact architecture of future networks as there is too much innovation yet to happen, and vendors and their customers have yet to reach a common agenda," comments Krozier.
But the search by vendors and network operators to find a better approach will eventually produce networks that are much more flexible in providing new services (monetizing the network) and more efficient in their use of resources (cost-effective).
In a follow-on report, Ovum will address SDN in service provider networks, how equipment used in carrier transport networks will evolve with SDN, and how and why they will deploy SDN technology.