Light Reading

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        ADD A COMMENT
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
UK operator is set to offer gigabit broadband services at the same price as DSL when its fiber-based service goes live in the fall.
An exclusive and unique Light Reading survey shows that it's not just network operators that are transforming their businesses and strategies -- the vendors are also changing to meet the evolving needs of their core customer base.
The telecom industry needs to rethink the meaning of 'five nines', says Ericsson CTO.
Reports suggest Ericsson might respond to the acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent by Nokia with a major deal of its own – but would that make sense?
Now more than ever, the industry needs to come together to ask and answer the big questions facing the communications networking industry -- and that's going to happen at the upcoming Big Telecom Event (BTE) in Chicago.
Flash Poll
From The Founder
Network architects aiming to upgrade their networks to support agile, open, virtualized services in the 21st century need to consider new criteria when choosing between technology suppliers.
Live Streaming Video
BTE 2015 Sponsor Keynote: HP
Dr. Prodip Sen, CTO, Network Functions Virtualization, HP
LRTV Custom TV
Red Hat Demo

7|2|15   |   10:53   |   (0) comments


Red Hat's Nicolas Lemieux demonstrates how Red Hat is driving innovation through open source communities.
LRTV Custom TV
Red Hat's Approach to OpenStack Adoption

7|2|15   |   5:17   |   (0) comments


Red Hat's Radhesh Balakrishnan outlines his company's open source strategy for both enterprises and telcos.
LRTV Custom TV
The New IP Goes Mobile With vEPC

7|2|15   |   1:12   |   (0) comments


Heavy Reading's Gabriel Brown discusses results of a Light Reading survey sponsored by Brocade that shows a clear commitment by mobile operators to move quickly to virtual EPC deployment.
LRTV Custom TV
Making Business Sense of SDN

7|2|15   |   1:42   |   (0) comments


Results of a Brocade-sponsored survey show that CSPs have a clear sense of SDN use cases but are wrestling with the business case. Sterling Perrin of Heavy Reading looks behind the numbers.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV Will Be Here Sooner Than You Think

7|2|15   |   2:22   |   (0) comments


Forget the usual ten-year cycle for new technologies – NFV will be a core part of CSP networks in five years, based on results of a Brocade-sponsored survey, says Heavy Reading's Caroline Chappell.
LRTV Custom TV
The New IP Gains Traction With CSPs

7|2|15   |   1:42   |   (0) comments


Roz Roseboro of Heavy Reading analyzes results of a Light Reading survey sponsored by Brocade showing that CSPs are getting serious about making the transition to the New IP era.
LRTV Custom TV
It's (Real) Time for Analytics

7|2|15   |   1:42   |   (0) comments


Heavy Reading's Jim Hodges looks at how CSPs say they plan to use analytics to deploy new services in real time as part of The New IP, based on results of a survey sponsored by Brocade.
LRTV Documentaries
IoT in Action

6|30|15   |   1:39   |   (7) comments


Two co-workers discuss the benefits of IoT technology.
LRTV Interviews
Ericsson Opens Up on OPNFV

6|30|15   |   14:16   |   (1) comment


Martin Bäckström, VP and head of industry area Datacom at Ericsson, talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the emergence of OPNFV, the importance of standards and Ericsson's OPNFV plans.
LRTV Custom TV
NetNumber Founder Discusses NFV/SDN Impact on SP Networks

6|26|15   |   4:15   |   (0) comments


NetNumber Founder Doug Ranalli examines why SPs need a new network infrastructure for service agility. While NFV and SDN are the tools, the old ways of thinking about signaling control are inhibitors. Doug provides his recommendations.
LRTV Custom TV
Orchestrating NFV vCPE Services Across Multivendor Networks

6|26|15   |   5:46   |   (0) comments


Nirav Modi provides an overview of vCPE, the fastest-growing NFV use case, showing how Cyan's Blue Planet orchestrates vCPE services across a multivendor infrastructure to rapidly deliver new managed services for business customers.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE at LTE Summit Amsterdam 2015

6|26|15   |     |   (0) comments


As one of the leading global telecommunications providers, ZTE presented its cutting-edge technology at LTE World Summit 2015 in Amsterdam. On display at ZTE's booth were the latest R&D achievements in wireless, 5G development, HetNet, deep convergence of FDD and TDD, and RCS/IMD/iSDN/vCN.
Upcoming Live Events
September 16-17, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
October 6, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
October 6, 2015, Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
October 14-15, 2015, New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, LA
November 5, 2015, Hilton Santa Clara, Santa Clara, CA
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Hot Topics
Who's Feeding Fiber to LinkNYC Hotspots?
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 6/29/2015
Colt to Jettison Ailing IT Business
Iain Morris, News Editor, 6/30/2015
Eurobites: Activist Investor Takes Stake in AlcaLu
Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, 6/30/2015
What's a Gigabit Good For?
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 7/1/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Casa Systems has been going from strength to strength over the last couple of years. In 2013, it became the first vendor to ship an integrated CCAP device -- the ...
Cedrik Neike, SVP of Global Service Provider, Service Delivery, at Cisco, talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about solving service provider customer problems in a virtualized, DevOps world, including multivendor support and the future of network procurement.
Cats with Phones