1. How mature is software-defined networking in Australia and what industries and sectors of the market are leading the charge in this arena?
Software-defined networking (SDN) in Australia is still relatively immature in its deployment, with the key use cases being offered to market by service providers being network connectivity between data centres. Automating the provisioning and elasticising the capacity of point-to-point data-centre-to-data-centre links is the first real example of SDN technology enabling real solutions in the market.
2. Where is the biggest opportunity for the channel around the shift to software-defined networking?
The biggest opportunity for the channel is to move up the value chain, from manually processing and hand-holding orders through systems, to leading consulting-led sales conversations with customers. SDN can automate much of the activation, and ultimately assurance processes to enable sales channels to focus on consulting based selling. SDN will also enable customers to trial services without a big capital investment, this will provide the channel a big opportunity to become the trusted adviser for customers and become more relevant to a customer’s business
3. How is this shift changing the skills needed for channel partners to succeed in this space?
Channel partners need to be able to understand these technology shifts and the types of benefits they can drive for customers. Our customers are increasingly asking us about what SDN means for them as a business, enterprise or government agency, so anyone who fronts customers needs to have the knowledge to explain how SDN can help businesses become more agile, and respond more dynamically in their own markets. Their channel and anyone who sells these services will need to understand the various services available and specifically how these services can help their customer’s business
4. What are the biggest challenges in moving to a software defined networking approach?
The biggest challenge may be a fear that this will be a threat to traditional channel partner’s hardware revenue. New revenue opportunities have the opportunity to be created, including:
· New services - just like we have seen through Cloud, customers will buy a lot more services due to the fact that the entry point has been lowered and it is easy to trial new services;
· New customers – customers who couldn’t afford hardware investments can now invest and as it is an ‘as a service’ model, buying decisions will be a lot faster
· New markets – SDN will be a great solution for the SME market and will open up new opportunities for customers who previously were not a market.
5. What is driving the shift to a software-defined approach?
The shift to a software defined approach is three-fold. Firstly, customer want to be able to consume network services in the same way that they consume cloud services, that is, on-demand via an online marketplace type of approach. Secondly, there is a market drive to simplify and reduce cost in the types of customer-premise equipment deployed, shifting from expensive feature-rich devices, to commodity hardware where the “smarts” are contained in an abstracted control plan. Finally, service providers are looking at ways to improve the efficiency of their own network, and software defined networking allows them to drive optimal use and capacity of the network elements that make up their core infrastructure, reducing operating and capital costs.
6.Any other points - trends etc?
At Telstra, we see SDN and Network Function Virtualisation (NFV) as enablers of a brilliant customer experience. We have started a new initiative, the Symphony Initiative, which will use SDN and NFV to deliver a unified, on-demand customer experience across Network, Managed Network Services and Cloud. We have partnered with Cisco on this initiative and would be happy to spend more time going through the details of this.