Shamus McGillicuddy, Senior Analyst for Enterprise Management Associates (EMA), recently published a comprehensive research study on “Managing Tomorrow’s Networks: The Impacts of SDN and Network Virtualization on Network Management.” Based on a survey of early adopters, the research explored how prepared enterprises and service providers are to manage SDN, NFV, and network virtualization. The short conclusion is that they are not very prepared, and the path forward is not very clear.
In case you don’t want to purchase and wade through the 95-page report, we’ve summarized a few other conclusions from the service provider section of the study here. It is based on the responses of 76 early adopters of SDN within communication service providers (CSPs) in North America, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific region. The majority of these CSPs have some production of SDN deployment completed. (EMA also prepared a special, six-page report on the service provider results for Packet Design, which you may download here.)
Overall, EMA’s conclusion is that “network management tools must evolve for SDN,” which is something Packet Design has been saying for a long time.
“From planning and engineering to availability monitoring and performance monitoring to troubleshooting, SDN adopters have clearly indicated a need for new features and functions that are unique to software-defined networks. Planning and engineering tools need to understand overall network state for better analysis and simulation, and SDN adopters need to acquire capacity planning features that are tuned to SDN flows. Availability monitoring systems need to collect new SDN metrics, especially in virtual environments where a new layer of infrastructure adds to overall complexity. Performance monitoring tools need to be responsive to the dynamic nature of SDN, and they need to provide visualization of these dynamic paths. Troubleshooting tools need to analyze and report on events that are unique to SDN.”
With this context in mind, here are the main findings of the survey:
Because the move to SDN and NFV is a business decision as well as a technology one for CSPs, EMA asked about the single biggest benefit they hope to realize through their SDN and NFV efforts. Here are the top three:
What then do CSPs need to make all this work and realize these benefits? McGillicuddy writes: “What has become clear to early adopters of SDN is that with all this dynamism, network operators need their networks to push telemetry to management systems. These management systems need granular visibility into changes occurring in the network. They must be able to model and predict network behavior based on this telemetry. And they must link this predictive analysis to business policy, for instance, by giving CSPs the ability to predict how programmatic changes to the network will impact SLAs.”
With this in mind, here are the top priorities of CSPs in the three general categories of network management tools that EMA identified in the report:
Read more results in EMA’s Packet Design-specific report – “Real-Time Network Telemetry Is Essential to SDN Management and Orchestration” – including their perspective on our SDN Analytics and Automation platform.