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
The global launch of Huawei's P8 smartphone was stage-managed within an inch of its life – but it didn't need to be.
There's a lot to take in regarding the planned combination of Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent – here's a quick guide to our coverage.
The potential merger of Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent will throw a spotlight on some key decisions that need to be made, particularly related to the wireless portfolio, IP relationships and management of the combined company.
Deadline extension means there are still a few more days to submit those winning entries, but don't delay -- April 10 is the final deadline and then the judging begins.
British carrier really wants to sweat that copper plant and sees a real opportunity to use that asset for high-speed backhaul.
Flash Poll
From The Founder
Ericsson's Hyperscale Datacenter System (HDS) 8000, featuring Intel's Rack Scale Architecture, caused a stir when it was announced at MWC 2015. For more on this revolutionary product, join me on Thursday, April 30 at 12:00 p.m. EST for a Super Webinar event, A New Hardware Paradigm for the Telco Data Center.
LRTV Documentaries
Cox Eyes Cloud-Based Home Networks

4|27|15   |   05:30   |   (0) comments


Cox's Jeff Finkelstein explains how moving services to the cloud will let cable deliver services faster and eliminate constant hardware replacements.
LRTV Documentaries
CableLabs' Clarke Updates Cable Virtualization

4|23|15   |   05:41   |   (1) comment


Former BT exec now leading CableLabs' NFV and SDN efforts explains key role of open source and updates efforts to virtualize the home network.
LRTV Interviews
Ericsson's CTO Talks Transformation: Pt. II

4|23|15   |   08:19   |   (1) comment


In the second installment of an in-depth two-part interview, Ericsson's CTO Ulf Ewaldsson talks to Light Reading CEO and founder Steve Saunders about cultural change, network slicing and technology advances.
LRTV Interviews
Ericsson's CTO Talks Transformation: Pt. I

4|23|15   |   09:27   |   (3) comments


In the first installment of an in-depth two-part interview, Ericsson's CTO Ulf Ewaldsson talks to Light Reading CEO and founder Steve Saunders about the incredible transformation underway in the communications networking industry.
LRTV Documentaries
LTE Paves the Way for the 5G Revolution

4|20|15   |   4:20   |   (0) comments


Håkan Andersson, head of 5G product strategy of the Radio Business Unit at Ericsson, discusses the role of LTE, the US and other industry verticals in building a true 5G ecosystem.
LRTV Documentaries
The 3GPP's Road to 5G Standardization

4|17|15   |   4:43   |   (0) comments


Satoshi Nagata, chairman of the 3GPP's TSG-RAN group and a manager at NTT Docomo, explains the standardization process for 5G, as well as the biggest challenges and opportunities.
LRTV Documentaries
AlcaLu CTO Makes the Case for a New 5G Air Interface

4|16|15   |   3:54   |   (0) comments


Michael Peeters, CTO of wireless at Alcatel-Lucent, explains why 5G will require a new air interface to meet its diverse performance targets.
LRTV Documentaries
AlcaLu + Nokia: The New Uber-Vendor

4|15|15   |   2:42   |   (4) comments


Heavy Reading Senior Analyst Gabriel Brown discusses the technological and competitive opportunities and challenges if a merger between Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia comes to pass.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Data Center Power Play

4|15|15   |   6:22   |   (0) comments


Huawei has developed industry-leading energy efficiency capabilities for its indoor and outdoor data center solutions, explains Dr. Fang Liangzhou, vice president of Huawei's Network Energy product Line.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei’s Routers, Switches Get the Green Mark

4|15|15   |   2:02   |   (0) comments


TUV Rheinland's Frank Dudley explains how Huawei's routers and switches have been successfully tested by energy efficiency experts and have gained Green Mark Certification.
LRTV Documentaries
A Finn, a Frenchman & a Guy From New Jersey Walk Into a Merger...

4|15|15   |   3:17   |   (0) comments


Stop us if you've heard this one before... Light Reading CEO Founder & CEO Steve Saunders weighs in on the technical and cultural implications of a Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent merger.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Accounting for Better Solutions

4|10|15   |   02:31   |   (1) comment


Murad Yousuf, CTO at Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Finance (Dept. of Zakat & Income Tax), talks about the benefits of deploying router technology from Huawei.
Upcoming Live Events
May 6, 2015, Georgia World Congress, Atlanta, GA
May 12, 2015, Grand Hyatt, Denver, CO
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 8, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 10, 2015, Chicago, IL
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
October 6, 2015, Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
November 11-12, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
In its latest survey covering network operators' plans and strategies for ICT transformation, Heavy Reading asked telecom operators worldwide to identify the most important goals and objectives for their ICT transformation initiatives. Heavy Reading also asked operators about the importance of a "digital first" strategy, which enables customers to complete an interaction across different digital channels, such as web and mobile self-service and social media.
Hot Topics
Comcast Formally Ends Its Bid for TWC
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 4/24/2015
Comcast Reportedly Dropping $45B TWC Bid
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 4/23/2015
Adtran Is Developing White Box GPON Tech
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 4/24/2015
Google's WiFi-First Mobile Service 'Fi' Is Here
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 4/22/2015
Amazon Earnings: What to Watch For
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 4/23/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Many leading communications companies can claim to have undergone significant periods of reinvention during their histories, but none have been through more major ...
Data Center Interconnect, or DCI, is one of the hottest sectors in telecom currently. Since coming back to Light Reading last year, prodigal-son style, I've ...
Cats with Phones
Cats Using Technology for Good, for Once Click Here