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Research Firm's Hype Cycle Report: 'SDN Has Become Obsolete'

Among many things included in research firm Gartner Inc.'s "Hype Cycle" report on enterprise networking for 2019 is this nugget of guidance about the software-defined networking (SDN) movement: "SD-WAN continues rapid movement as a mainstream technology, while software-defined networking (SDN) has become obsolete as true SDN technologies have not achieved any significant market traction."

SDN has often been described as a transformative, next-gen, disruptive technology challenging the old guard of hardware-based, proprietary netorking systems. But, indeed, most of the buzz lately in the SDN space has focused on SD-WAN, a breakthrough niche of SDN that has moved the technology from testing, proofs of concept, experiments and demos to real-world enterprise usage.

Gartner's Hype Cycle reports such as Enterprise Networking 2019 track various products through a path including innovation trigger, peak of inflated expectations, trough of disillusionment, slope of enlightenment and plateau of productivity.

According to a copy of Gartner's for-pay report, dated July 2019, provided as a licensed-for-distribution offering, the times of incremental network updates are over for enterprises, which need to adopt new technologies for digital transformations.

 Priority Matrix for Enterprise Networking, 2019
[Click on image for larger view.] Priority Matrix for Enterprise Networking, 2019 (source: Gartner)

"Several technologies are moving through the Hype Cycle rapidly including service mesh, which is nearing peak hype as more vendors release products," the report says. "Intent-based networking is sliding toward the trough as tangible real-world benefits and adoption are limited."

High on the list of technologies expected to provide significant benefits in two to five years are:

  • Firewall as a service
  • Network automation
  • SD-WAN
  • Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)

Tech in the trough of disillusionment include:

  • Open Compute Project networking
  • Network functional virtualization
  • Brite-box switching
  • 2.5/5 Gbps Ethernet

Just a few of the many technologies presented as being on the rise include:

  • Named data networking
  • Secure access service edge
  • Site reliability engineering
  • Enhanced Internet delivery
  • Service mesh

"For years, networking technologies have experienced incremental improvements centered on speed and features. However, digital business demands agile networks, and recent network innovations are focused on improving network agility," the report says. "I&O leaders are also being asked to deliver more services at an increasing pace with fewer errors and at a lower cost.

"Organizations that fail to deliver agile networks may not meet their companies' digital initiatives. Thus, incremental network evolution will not suffice. Similarly, in order to fully support the shift to digital, investments in people and culture must be made to fully realize the value of these new technologies."

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.

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