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By Dean Campbell, LightRiver CTO

dean campbell lightriver technologiesSoftware-defined networking (SDN) – a phrase that has been batted around industry circles for much of the middle of this decade – is often referred to as “the latest trend” or a “hot topic” that is transforming the industry. Well, much of that is true. However, we are past the point in time that this can really be referred to as something new to the industry.

What folks are certainly still trying to grapple with is how to implement SDN into their network technology and make it as agile as possible for the cloud and evolving data centers.

I was fortunate to take part in a roundtable hosted by JSA this past spring called, “SDN Myths and Reality,” during which we discussed the exciting potential and many challenges of SDN. Much of what we discussed is worth revisiting as we slow down for a bit this summer before ramping right back up this fall.

I was joined on the roundtable by JSA CEO and Founder Jaymie Scotto Cutaia, Light Reading Editor-at-Large Carol Wilson, who moderated the panel, and Niloufar Tayebi, Director of Global Consulting, Enterprise and Cloud Services for Ciena. As we noted at the beginning of this roundtable discussion (which you can find in full below), SDN, along with network functions virtualization (NFV) are in transition from shiny new things to constant and important parts of our industry.

Niloufar and I have been working with a variety of colleagues during the past several years to find the most efficient ways to deliver SDN and NFV into the market and make it useful and reliable. One important area we have grappled with is speeding up the adoption of SDN for Tier 2 networks and smaller. Progress is certainly being made – just not as quickly as the marketplace would prefer.

We are all searching for ways to integrate SDN and NFV fully into network operations. And what is difficult here is the fact that network environments continue to become more and more complex. We are all striving to get this technology to a place where ROI is consistent in data center environments, and then implement it across the board.

As we have discussed at length in roundtables, panels, in-depth articles and blogs, we are all striving toward the network automation space. That doesn’t appear to be coming any time in the near future. However, we want to continue to focus on offering the most agility and flexibility possible to keep pace with scale so that when we do final get to full network automation, we’re ready.

So while you’re enjoying what is (hopefully) that slow period of the summer when you can catch your breath, take some time to watch the video above (or here: and think about how your company will continue to tackle SDN and NFV.

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