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SDN Will Reshape Ethernet Services Landscape

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NEW YORK -- The convergence of carrier Ethernet 2.0 and software-defined networking (SDN) technologies promises to reshape how most networks are built and operated and significantly impact the competitive services landscape, but it may be years before the impact is fully felt, according to a major new report from Heavy Reading (, the research division of Light Reading (

The Ethernet & SDN Executive Council State-of-the-Industry Survey Report, 2Q13 provides complete results of an in-depth survey conducted by Heavy Reading, polling members of our Ethernet & SDN Executive Council – a supergroup of more than 140 service and technology experts from nearly 75 service providers worldwide – to explore their views regarding the current direction and future prospects for the global carrier Ethernet market and its convergence with SDN principles and technologies. Participating in this survey were executives from nearly 50 service providers worldwide, whose companies employ 95+ Executive Council members.

"The vast majority of Council members participating in the survey agreed to at least some extent that competition in the Ethernet services market generally has expanded beyond a focus on service types and technical details to also include a greater emphasis on service performance and quality of experience," notes Stan Hubbard, Senior Analyst with Heavy Reading and author of the report. "Respondents pointed to end-to-end performance SLAs, rapid service turn-up and extensive on-network service coverage within metro markets as the most important service features affecting customer buying decisions."

While Council members appear largely in agreement that we will see the emergence of more dynamic service capabilities, a large portion of survey participants do not expect SDN to affect the services market any time soon, Hubbard explains. "Survey feedback illustrates that we are still very much in the early days of any potential industry-wide transition to SDN. Nearly two thirds of respondents said that their companies are learning about, planning or evaluating SDN strategies, while only 9 percent are currently using or starting to use SDN technologies."

Other key findings of Ethernet & SDN Executive Council State-of-the-Industry Survey Report, 2Q13 include:

  • Survey data suggests performance SLAs, rapid service turn-up and strong metro coverage are very likely to remain the top three service differentiators other than price through the end of 2014. Many operators also appear to consider MEF CE 2.0 services certification as an important way to help distinguish their offerings in the market.
  • We expect service providers to increasingly differentiate by emphasizing real-time performance visibility via Web service portals, 100G transport services, 100GE UNI services, dynamic bandwidth and network-based application awareness. Council members generally regard Web service portals with service performance statistics and 100G optical transport technology as the two most important technology innovations delivering the greatest value to their companies.
  • Only 13 percent of respondents believe SDN will begin to significantly impact the landscape for Ethernet, IP or wavelength services before the end of 2014. The vast majority of respondents do not expect more than 10 percent of their revenue to come from Ethernet, IP, cloud or wavelength services delivered over an SDN architecture in the next 18 months. 2015 appears to be regarded as an important transition year in terms of a revenue shift as well as the anticipated impact on the competitive landscape.

    The Ethernet & SDN Executive Council State-of-the-Industry Survey Report, 2Q13 costs $4,995 and is published in PDF format. The price includes an enterprise license covering all of the employees at the purchaser's company.

    Heavy Reading

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