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
I don't think there's another company like this in the communications industry…
Cloud asset M&A makes sense for telcos, but while it might make sense for Rackspace to be bought by an operator, does it have what CenturyLink really needs?
With the shadow of Apple's upcoming announcement hanging over them, mobile device vendors such as Samsung, Microsoft, Huawei and Motorola have been unveiling new devices.
The 'Ice Bucket Challenge' has been sweeping the world -- so who in the telecom sector has done it?
Not taking Iliad's bid for T-Mobile US seriously? Think again.
Flash Poll
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Network Solutions Help the Philippines Jump Ahead

9|17|14   |   2:59   |   (0) comments


In the past, the Philippines has under-invested in technology. Now, the CEO of Softshell talks about how Huawei products help the Philippines jump ahead as the economy improves.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
VCS Observation for Safer Cities in the Netherlands

9|17|14   |   5:20   |   (0) comments


Holland's VCS Observation has been operating for 22 years. Its main goal is to get cities safer. CEO Wim van Deijzen tells us some of the challenges his company faces and how Huawei is helping to overcome these challenges.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
A Conversation With Serbia's Ministry of Interior

9|17|14   |   4:38   |   (0) comments


At HCC 2014, the Assistant Minister of the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Serbia talks to us about his projects and corporation with Huawei. Solutions like Safe City and E-Government and services like cloud computing are just some of the areas his department is interested in.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
IHS Analyst Discusses eLTE at CCW 2014

9|10|14   |   7:09   |   (0) comments


Thomas Lynch, associate director of critical communications at IHS Technology, talks about broadband in critical communications.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
TCAA on Huawei eLTE: A Broadband Solution for Mission-Critical Communications

9|10|14   |   2:29   |   (0) comments


At CCW2014 in Singapore, the TCCA's Phil Kidner talks about the importance of broadband data for critical communications.
LRTV Custom TV
Spotlight on Cisco: SDN for Optical Networks

9|8|14   |   9:27   |   (0) comments


Cisco's Greg Nehib talks OpenFlow and more on the 'Software-Defined Networking for Optical Networks' panel at the Big Telecom Event in June 2014.
LRTV Custom TV
Cisco's Evolved Programmable Network (EPN)

9|8|14   |   4:05   |   (0) comments


A look at the various demos Cisco showed at Light Reading's Big Telecom Event highlighting Cisco's EPN innovation and how SDN and NFV technologies are enabling a variety of new services.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Future of Ultra-Broadband, With Kevin Kelly (UBBF2014)

9|5|14   |   1:13   |   (0) comments


If you think the technological changes we've seen up to now are astounding, just wait until you see what the future has in store. Discuss upcoming breakthroughs with Kevin Kelly, Founding Executive Editor of Wired Magazine, at the Huawei Ultra-Broadband Forum on September 24.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Inaugural Optical Innovation Forum in Nice

9|2|14   |     |   (0) comments


More than 170 attendees from network operators, service providers, analyst firms, and component companies from around the world convened in Nice in June for the inaugural Optical Innovation Forum, co-produced by Huawei and Light Reading.
Wagner’s Ring
Data Centers Drive Telcos Into the Future

8|28|14   |   2:20   |   (2) comments


Data centers are at the heart of key trends driving telecom -- network virtualization, the drive for increased agility, and the need to compete with OTT providers.
LRTV Custom TV
Why SPs Should Consider Cisco's EPN

8|27|14   |   5:40   |   (0) comments


Sultan Dawood from Cisco discusses Cisco's EPN, which enables SPs to build agile and programmable networks delivering new network virtualized services using Cisco's Evolved Services Platform (ESP).
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei’s Showcase @ Big Telecom Event 2014

8|26|14   |   2.56   |   (0) comments


SoftCOM is Huawei's framework for telecom business and network transformation. Haofei Liu, Solution Marketing Manager, Carrier Business Group, Huawei, showcases Huawei's SoftCOM architecture in this video.
Upcoming Live Events!!
September 23, 2014, Denver, CO
October 29, 2014, New York City
November 6, 2014, Santa Clara
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 2, 2014, New York City
December 3, 2014, New York City
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
A survey conducted by Vasona Networks suggests that 72% of mobile users expect good performance all the time, and they'll blame the network operator when it's not up to par.
Today's Cartoon
Vacation Special Caption Competition Click Here
Latest Comment
Hot Topics
Introducing 'The New IP'
Steve Saunders, CEO and founder, Light Reading, 9/11/2014
Glimpsing the Self-Driving Car
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 9/12/2014
AT&T to Launch WiFi Calling in 2015
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 9/12/2014
AT&T: We'll Bundle Fixed Wireless & DirecTV
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 9/15/2014
New NFV Forum Focused on Interoperability
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 9/16/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed