ARN chatted with Oracle's senior principle product director, infrastructure software, Doan Nguyen, for her views on the emergence of software-defined networking (SDN) in the Australian market.
1. How mature is software-defined networking in Australia and what industries and sectors of the market are leading the charge in this arena?
Tech Mahindra has deployed Oracle’s Virtual Compute Appliance (VCA) to help it meet the requirements of one of its customers - a large Australian wealth management organization. As an integrated, “wire once”, software-defined converged infrastructure system designed for rapid deployment of both infrastructure hardware and application software, the VCA has reduced the cost and complexity for both Tech Mahindra and its customer.
2. Where is the biggest opportunity for the channel around the shift to software-defined networking?
The shift in virtualisation - beyond compute - will open up new opportunities for resellers and ISVs but it can also mean that they need to be involved sooner in the design phase of the solution. They should look to broaden their influence within their customers, because they will not just be selling to one technology group. For a virtualised datacentre solution, for example, they may need to work with the client’s server, storage, networking and security teams. Resellers can capitalise on this trend by focusing on the impact that the virtual networking and storage will have on the operational lifecycle of the datacentre. Products and services helping to address network and storage capacity sizing, including deployment services of virtual storage and networking, are opportunities for further monetisation.
3. How is this shift changing the skills needed for channel partners to succeed in this space?
The consolidation of servers and workloads, to improve the overall utilisation of server resources, is a growing trend that is pushing us toward the next virtualisation boom. As more and more workloads are virtualised, the demand to connect those virtual machines to a range of networks and storage systems also increases. The result can be systems with a spaghetti mess of cables and interfaces on the back panel, and networking configurations can remain tied to the physical network and storage, which can limit the resource sharing of the virtual systems. This means the reseller and system integrator is the ability to expand their current product and services portfolio. Resellers can now expand their product services to include sizing and deployment of virtualised storage and networking to existing customer infrastructures, to take advantage of further cost savings and operational efficiencies. For systems integrators, the Oracle product portfolio provides a ready-built set of technologies using Oracle Virtual Networking or Oracle VM Templates, allowing them to expand their portfolio of services, and quickly address business requirements. The benefits of Oracle’s infrastructure products is that Oracle has done much of the work at the infrastructure layer, the reseller and SI can use this “tool set” to repeatedly and reliably build on their value added services and further grow their business.
4. What are the biggest challenges in moving to a software defined networking approach?
One of the biggest barriers can be the scope of knowledge and experience of the reseller. They may need to cover server, storage, networking, virtualisation, security and the overall architecture to sell a complete solution. Some resellers may choose to team up with other vendors that specialise in an area where they have a gap, while others already have these skill sets across their different sales specialties. For these companies, it may require a shift in how they go to market because they may not be calling on individual silos within the customer.
5. What is driving the shift to a software-defined approach?
Cloud, Internet of Things (IoT) and a maturing of server and application virtualisation is enabling this shift. We've seen how network bandwidth needs to change according to shifting workloads, and SDN enables the rapid provisioning, reconfiguration and de-provisioning of what were traditionally fixed line services.