Once considered as a long-term goal, Software-Defined Networking (SDN) is now an essential component of modern-day IT infrastructures – dramatically accelerating organizational agility, flexibility, and innovation. While initially successful in the telecom and service provider industries, the approach is ready to break out across global infrastructures everywhere. SDN is coming to the enterprise – whether companies are ready or not.

Empowering network engineers and administrators to quickly respond to changing business requirements, SDN infrastructures lead with software. Powered by virtualization, a network administrator can shape traffic from a central console without physically engaging with any one switch. Services are delivered anywhere in the network, regardless of device or connections. Decoupling network intelligence and configuration from physical connections and hardware via an abstraction layer, SDN ensures companies can adapt in real-time to changing requirements.

SDNs biggest impact to date is for telecom and service providers. Allowing carriers to deliver “bandwidth-on-demand”, the infrastructure improves flexibility of services and reduces operational costs. Successfully maximizing open standards like OpenFlow, providers can effectively guide bandwidth-hungry applications and services – such as video streaming, Internet browsing and file downloads. And while the model holds great promise, enterprise organizations still haven’t quite caught up with the hype.

Unlike large cloud service providers who built scalable architectures out of necessity, enterprises are more likely tied to legacy technology. Change is complex and large technology shifts are required – mandating significant resources and change-agents within the organization. Determined to avoid major business disruptions, these teams often take smaller steps towards SDN adoption. With internal IT focused on keeping the enterprise operational, there’s less time and expertise available to drive integration of next-generation models like Cloud, SDN and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV).

Enterprise organizations are also inherently risk-averse, which isn’t surprising considering estimates that every lost or stolen record now costs $154 on average – a 6.2 percent increase over previous years. With SDN, the biggest fear is controller attacks – given they’re now decoupled from physical hardware. Perhaps that’s why 49 percent of respondents to an OpenDaylight Project survey named security as a top barrier to SDN adoption. This ultimately requires a fresh approach to security – revisiting architectures with a comprehensive audit of new weak spots – and later integration of tools designed to maximize protection at the centralized controller.

To facilitate infrastructure transformation, many enterprises are aligning with dedicated partners like CenturyLink to smooth the road to SDN adoption. Our Converged Data Networking Services make it possible to create an infrastructure driven by high-speed, on-demand networking. Our robust MPLS Network acts as the foundation for reliable global Hybrid IT, creating an environment that is agile and secure. With a massive global footprint and unmatched connectivity, CenturyLink’s infrastructure is proven to help reduce costs and improve agility. Our own investments in SDN and NFV ensure customers can leverage the broadest range of connectivity options – from MPLS to broadband and gain instant access to network-based services.

Companies around the world are finally waking up to the promise of SDN. An essential component to highly robust and agile infrastructures, SDN is currently making its presence felt across enterprise infrastructures. To kick-start these strategies, companies must quickly begin aligning with reliable partners to overcome any and all potential roadblocks.

Schedule a consultation with us today to learn how SDN can improve your network’s performance.

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