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A look at the SDN trend in Asia: interview

Nurdianah Md Nur | Sept. 30, 2013
SDN is still in the nascent stage, especially in the AP region. Michel Emelianoff shares the reasons for this, and tips for organisations looking to adopt SDN.

Michel Emelianoff

Software defined network (SDN) has been much talked about in literature but many organisations in Asia are still in the exploratory stage. Michel Emelianoff, executive vice president of Alcatel-Lucent and president, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, attributed this to the fact that organisations are not ready to replace their network core with SDN controllers. He added that the simplicity, openness and total cost of ownership of SDN will also affect its adoption rate.

Besides the SDN trend in Asia, Emelianoff shared with us his thoughts on the benefits of SDN, tips to prevent network challenges due to SDN, and Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise's future plans for the region.

Why should data centres move towards SDN?
The goals of SDN are to improve agility, streamline operations and optimise usage of resources within the data centre (and by extension through the corporate infrastructure as well). As SDN is an emerging technology, data centre teams should understand how to solve their business challenges today with an eye towards an appropriate evolution path towards SDN technology downstream and ensure selection of technology today that will evolve as their needs evolve.

 What is the adoption rate of SDN in Asia?
We have witnessed keen interests in this topic, with many customers largely in the exploratory stage. Until recently, network and applications work in silo. The drivers behind SDN are well known — the network needs to be application aware. In response to this need, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise launched the Application Fluent Network (AFN) architecture two years ago to automate control and policies across the enterprise. The end result is a shift from device-centric to a user-centric network, offering the benefits of a rich user experience, a seamless operations and a lower total cost of ownership for our customers. Our AFN approach has gained great traction with over 2,000 enterprise customers across Asia Pacific.

 How different is the adoption rate of SDN in Asia from that in other parts of the world? Why is this so?
It takes more than 30 years for routers and switches to reach this level of intelligence, reliability, openness and adoption. And while it is true customers are adopting a multi-vendor strategy at the network edge, this is not true at the Network Core where the nerve centres are. The core architecture has to be highly virtualised, scalable and 100 percent non-blocking. However, customers are still adopting a single-vendor approach. Here in Singapore as an example, the dominant supplier to the network core is down to only two vendors: Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise and Cisco. Now if you take a step back and ask 10 customers if they are ready to rip and replace their Network Core with SDN controllers, you will probably get a sense of why SDN adoption will take a while. It might take off relatively faster in the US due to the proximity to the SDN standard bodies, but like any technology, the adoption rate will depend on simplicity, openness and total cost of ownership.


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