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When will enterprises be ready to use SDN?

After years of hype, high-profile mergers and proven use cases, enterprises hesitated to use SDN. Is it finally time for it to secure a spot in mainstream networks?

When I think about software-defined networking (SDN) in the enterprise, it reminds me of 3-D TVs in the consumer market.

For nearly a century, 3-D filmmaking has tried to make headway in movie theaters, starting with the world's first known 3-D movie, "The Power of Love," in 1922. Audiences wore those wacky glasses -- one lens blue, the other red -- to view the effect. Ever since, 3-D films make a comeback every few decades and stick around until the novelty wears off with audiences.

Then something changed in 2010. The technology tried to move from the cinema to the living room. At the Consumer Electronics Show that year, 3-D HDTVs grabbed all the headlines. The hype machine was in overdrive. It wasn't long before 3-D TVs popped up everywhere from Amazon to Wal-Mart at consumer-friendly price points. The industry expected it would be gradually adopted like other advances in home entertainment (think VHS, DVD and Blu-Ray). But again, it never took off -- even after manufacturers found a way to eliminate the need for glasses. It became a tradition to declare 3-D TVs dead, year after year.

So even if it's not the perfect parallel to SDN, I can't help but notice the similarities. SDN was heralded as the next rung on networking's evolutionary ladder. Adoption took off quickly among cloud providers, carriers and large-scale Web companies. But even after vendors pivoted and innovated to appeal more to the mainstream, enterprises' willingness to deploy SDN has been tepid.

Will SDN suffer the same fate as 3-D TV, minus the special glasses? In our cover story of this issue of Network Evolution, find out if, how and when enterprises are likely to use SDN, as well as what's held it back (Why SDN is gaining traction in the enterprise).

Also in this issue, we dig into the politics of downtime in the wake of several high-profile network outages affecting companies like United Airlines and the New York Stock Exchange (Man vs. machine: In a network outage, who's to blame?). We also hear from several networking professionals about how they're responding to the growing need to become more security-savvy in light of the avalanche of data breaches over the past several years (Amid ongoing threats, network security training gains appeal).

Then, in this edition of The Subnet, an IT pro at the Rochester Institute of Technology shares what it's like to manage a class B network without a firewall (Combating network threats: Look, Ma, no firewall!). And be sure to check out our latest Network Innovation Award winner, Avaya's Open Networking Adapter.

Next Steps

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