The true value of SDN lies in the benefits it can provide across a number of IT environments, but determining that specific value is difficult at best and requires context that only you can provide.
- Make a point of extending the discussion about SDN at conferences and take the time to share your experiences and concerns with your IT colleagues; everyone will reap benefits far beyond the price of admission.
The SDN discussion really needs to move beyond the technology that powers it and towards the value it provides to enterprise IT. Thankfully analysts, press, and technical bloggers are all starting to talk about the value that SDN provides in addition to technology and I think we’ll see much more in 2014.
No matter how cool or engaging a new technology is—and SDN is very cool and engaging—companies won’t buy into it if they don’t see a compelling need. When the technology is as disruptive to IT operations as SDN can be, the value has to be even more compelling to overcome the potential risks and uncertainty that comes with the new technology. Network vendors spend a great deal of time and energy creating collateral about the value of SDN but often times they don’t reach the right people or the messaging falls flat. It’s not for want of trying, and there are some good arguments and case studies that outline the value of SDN.
Enterprise IT professionals have a different role to play and that is to talk with colleagues about your experience with SDN whether you’re in the research, pilot, deployment, or operational phase. There are pockets of IT communities such as information security, which shares their knowledge with each other in blogs, at conferences, in video, and other venues. The overall information security community has grown richer for the sharing because they are “in it together.”
In other parts of IT like networking, professionals are less forthcoming because they don’t think they have anything valuable to say (you do), aren’t aware of the available venues (trade shows are a good start), or are hamstrung by their employers’ desire to not give away competitive advantage (ridiculous position, that). All of those are surmountable—even non-disclosures—and what you’ll find is a ready audience who want to hear what you have to say and will readily share back what they have learned.
Against the backdrop of professional messaging, what matters most is how a technology will help your organization and whether it’s worth it. The shared experience of how another company evaluated SDN and found it useful (or not) is worth sharing with others. Learning what features you and others find valuable will say more about the opportunities available than any white paper or webinar.
I can tell you from personal experience that the feedback you get from your peers—IT professionals like yourselves—while speaking at local, regional, or national conferences is worthwhile and you easily learn as much as you teach. Go seek out speaking and presenting opportunities in 2014. Your peers will thank you.