Light Reading
If IBM should step back from the software-defined networking (SDN) market, would that be wise?

IBM's SDN Poser

Ray Le Maistre
1/31/2014
50%
50%

Is there going to be an SDN shake-out in 2014?

That question springs to mind as speculation about IBM's strategy does the rounds: The suggestion is that IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) is looking to sell its SDN unit.

It seems counterintuitive that an IT giant would step back from what is one of the hottest technology trends in decades. But that doesn't mean it makes no sense.

IBM recently announced a $1.2 billion investment in its global network of datacenters used to deliver cloud services to enterprise customers. That's a major commitment. IBM is in the cloud services game for the long run and wants to be the main rival to Amazon Web Services LLC .

Then IBM announced the sale of its x86 server product line to Lenovo, which suggests it has discounted any role it might have in being the supplier of generic hardware for network functions virtualization (NFV) deployments.

That agreement with Lenovo doesn't include the company's SDN for Virtual Environments product set, including OpenFlow-enabled switches, which is what is believed to be up for grabs now.

IBM is also hot on big data, and it's utilizing its Watson computing platform to develop analytics services and technologies for enterprises. The company also acquired analytics expert The Now Factory a few months ago to feed into this effort. (See IBM Acquires Analytics Expert.)

It seems, then, that IBM is picking its battles and focusing on what it regards as its strengths. That makes sense, right?

Now, even if IBM should sell its SDN unit, that doesn't mean it would be abandoning SDN totally. It is a Platinum Member of the OpenDaylight SDN initiative and will obviously need to be at the heart of virtualization developments as it evolves its cloud services and infrastructure. But that doesn't mean it needs to be going head-to-head with the likes of Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ), Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR), Nuage Networks , et al. in trying to sell SDN technology to the masses.

Keep an eye on IBM. Its decisions in the coming weeks and months might provide an interesting template for others. By the time 2015 comes, we might be looking back at an SDN shake-out. There could even be some indication here that the datacenter and enterprise SDN market, which was expected to be worth only about $360 million in 2013, according to IDC, requires a patient, slow-burn strategy to achieve worthwhile returns. Perhaps IBM isn't willing to wait. Even the anticipated growth of coming years leaves only so much business to go around among the IT giants.

Traditional telecom equipment vendors might also pause to think about their strategies too -- not so much whether they integrate/develop SDN capabilities into their platforms, but in terms of how much of their resources they need to apply to the R&D and marketing of an SDN-led strategy.

Play to your strengths -- that could be what IBM is reminding us all to do.

Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

(3)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
TomNolle
50%
50%
TomNolle,
User Rank: Light Sabre
1/31/2014 | 12:43:27 PM
Re: IBM just happened to be there....
I think that IBM, like a lot of companies, understands that "the cloud" is a fusion of IT and network value and that fusion could let players from one space slop over into the other.  If you're IBM you have to be looking west to Cisco as one of those with the ambitions to climb into the IT world through the cloud.  SDN is one of several technical elements of a "boundary layer" between IT and networking.  Make SDN very software-centric, driving white-box hardware, and you put a serious crimp in any network vendor's ambitions.  I think IBM probably thought in those terms when they got into SDN and OpenDaylight.  What I think they're now realizing is that this whole IT/network fusion thing is going to be hard, and Wall Street is driving IBM to produce something in a quarter and not in a couple years.  So they move on.  Is that smart?  Only if you believe in quarterly-results-groundhog-day.  You always end up getting to what you thought was "the future", and often sooner than you think.
DOShea
50%
50%
DOShea,
User Rank: Blogger
1/31/2014 | 11:57:36 AM
Re: IBM just happened to be there....
Yes, if there is a shake-out, it could very well have even less to do with product worth or market wins than companies realizing they rushed into something for fear of missing the boat. For the public companies, there may be some pain to deal with in the short term if the broad perception is that they are pulling back from a hot market.
Ray@LR
50%
50%
Ray@LR,
User Rank: Blogger
1/31/2014 | 11:42:41 AM
IBM just happened to be there....
IBM is the example 'de jour' but there has to be some perspective on the whole shift to SDN....

It's not for everyone, right? Not all companies can build a future business around SDN tech/consulting etc

So why it might seem crazy for a company such as IBM not to be 'in SDN,' it might make snese -- in the same way that it makes sense for Cisco customers will stick with Cisco no matter what the IP giant's SDN strategy, because they will be comfortable with the familiarity etc and caution at dealoing with new suppliers/partners...

 

Cisco Asks the Killer SDN Question


http://www.lightreading.com/carrier-sdn/sdn-architectures/cisco-asks-the-killer-sdn-question/a/d-id/706490
More Blogs from Shades of Ray
Experienced telecom editor Jason Meyers has joined the Light Reading team to focus on some of the hottest emerging sectors in the industry.
Can service providers afford to neglect small businesses in a FTTx, 4G world?
The open source NFV platform meeting in the Valley this week highlights some of the key shifts ongoing in telecom.
Did you see what happened when we mixed booze + balls at this year's Leading Lights awards party?
With 4G just getting into its stride, 5G is already a hot topic. But is it too early? I don't think so.
Flash Poll
LRTV Documentaries
Sprint's Network Evolution

7|24|14   |   14:59   |   (0) comments


Sprint's Jay Bluhm gives a keynote speech at the Big Telecom Event (BTE) about Sprint's network and services evolution strategy, including Spark.
LRTV Documentaries
BTE Keynote: The Software-Defined Operator

7|24|14   |   18:43   |   (1) comment


Deutsche Telekom's Axel Clauberg explains the concept of the software-defined operator to the Big Telecom Event (BTE) crowd.
Light Reedy
Numbers Are In: LR's 2014 Salary Survey

7|24|14   |   1:25   |   (5) comments


Our fourth annual Salary Survey paints a picture of who's hiring, firing, earning, and yearning for a change in the telecom industry.
LRTV Custom TV
Driving the Network Transformation

7|23|14   |   4:29   |   (0) comments


Intel's Sandra Rivera discusses network transformation and how Intel technologies, programs, and standards body efforts have helped the industry migration to SDN and NFV.
LRTV Custom TV
Distributed NFV-Based Business Services by RAD

7|18|14   |   5:38   |   (0) comments


With the ETSI-approved Distributed NFV PoC running in the background, RAD's CEO, Dror Bin, talks about why D-NFV makes compelling sense for service providers, and about the dollars and cents RAD is putting behind D-NFV.
LRTV Custom TV
MRV Accelerating Packet Optical Convergence

7|15|14   |   6:06   |   (0) comments


Giving you network insight to make your network smarter.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV-Enabled Ethernet for Generating New Revenues

7|15|14   |   5:49   |   (0) comments


Cyan's Planet Orchestrate allows service providers and their end-customers to activate software-based capabilities such as firewalls and encryption on top of existing Ethernet services in just minutes.
LRTV Custom TV
Symkloud NVF-Ready Video Transcoding, Big Data

7|9|14   |   3:41   |   (0) comments


Kontron and ISV partner Vantrix demonstrate high-performance video transcoding and data analytic solutions on same 2U standard platform that is ready for SDN and NFV deployments made by mobile, cable and cloud operators.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Evolving Role of Hybrid Video for Competitive Success

7|4|14   |   4:09   |   (0) comments


At Huawei's Global Analysts Summit in Shenzhen, China, Steven C. Hawley from TV Strategies speaks to us about the evolving role of hybrid video for competitive success.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
How CSPs Leverage Big Data in the Digital Economy

7|4|14   |   4:48   |   (2) comments


Justin van der Lande from Analysys Mason shares with us his views on how telecom operators can leverage customer asset monetization with big data. His discusses the current status of big data applications and the challenges and opportunities for telecom operators in the digital economy era.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Accelerator for Digital Business Future Oriented BSS

7|4|14   |   3:08   |   (0) comments


Mobile and internet are becoming intertwined; IT and CT are integrating; and leading CSPs have begun to transform to information service and entertainment providers. How should the BSS system evolve to enable this transformation? Karl Whitelock, an analyst at Frost & Sullivan, shares his views.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Orange Tunisia Discusses Multi-Band Antenna With EasyRET Solution

7|4|14   |   2:45   |   (0) comments


As new site acquisition becomes more difficult, Orange Tunisia has requested multi-band antenna to support UMTS and LTE innovation. Some things considered include reducing the cost of antenna maintenance and having high reliability antenna and EasyRET solution.
Upcoming Live Events!!
September 16, 2014, Santa Clara, CA
September 16, 2014, Santa Clara, CA
October 29, 2014, New York City
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
Allot's latest MobileTrends Charging Report shows that value-based pricing plans are up from 35% in 2011 to 85% in 2014.
Today's Cartoon
Hot Topics
The Municipal Menace?
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Utility Communications/IoT, 7/22/2014
Cisco Puts a Fog Over IoT
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 7/23/2014
GM: 10 Car Models on Road With AT&T's LTE
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 7/18/2014
Apple Earnings: Strong iPhone Sales, iPad Sales Slump, $7.8B Profit
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 7/22/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed