Heavy Reading
Length: 30 Pages
Price: $3,995
12 Data Center Switch Vendors Profiled
Click here for the full list of included companies.
30 pages of analysis of the main drivers for change in the telco data center networking domain, highlighting the impact of SDN and NFV
In-depth examination of how open, standards-based networking equipment will make telco operations more agile, cost-effective and efficient
Exploration of the changing requirements and emerging use cases for telco data centers
Profiles of 12 leading data center networking vendors, focusing on their strategies to SDN-enable the telco data center
Roz Roseboro
Senior Analyst,
Heavy Reading
Roz focuses on how innovation and change are impacting the compute, network and storage infrastructure domains, with particular emphasis on virtualization...MORE
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Length: 30 Pages
Price: $3,995
The Future of Telco Data Center Networking in the SDN Era

Data centers are becoming a more strategic asset for telecom operators, with many currently in the midst of, or planning, major transformations. Whereas they were once used primarily to support internal functions, today data centers are used to deliver end-user applications, including content and video. More importantly, cloud-based services such as infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and software as a service (SaaS) are facing an increasingly competitive market. Network functions virtualization (NFV) is another major driver of change in the telco data center.

To support these new services more efficiently and cost-effectively, telcos are looking to software-defined networking (SDN) architectures. SDN represents a new paradigm in networking one that is creating an opportunity for new suppliers. Open, standards-based platforms threaten to disrupt the business of established suppliers, which have historically offered proprietary solutions. These suppliers are looking to defend their turf while also demonstrating a commitment to "openness."

Opex savings is the main driver behind the move toward SDN, as opposed to the capex savings that generic x86 platforms will provide. SDN architectures offer the promise of more automation, simplifying service creation and delivery. The ability to use Linux-based tools would enable telcos to use a single management system across the compute, network and storage domains. This is how the hyper-scale cloud providers such as Google and Amazon operate today, and telcos need to be able to match them from a cost perspective to remain competitive. Virtualization which is not a requirement of SDN, but is often planned in conjunction with SDN transformation will give telcos the ability to use resources more efficiently.

SDN is but one of the use cases that is supported by existing and emerging data center networking solutions. Leaf/spine architectures are being deployed to account for the shifting of traffic from north-south to east-west. Fabric architectures provide a more efficient way to configure and manage disparate network elements and transport data. Overlay networks provide the ability to support thousands of virtual networks a necessity for cloud services while also making it easier to move workloads between and across data centers.

SDN itself has many possible implementation scenarios, and different vendors and products support different models. Heavy Reading expects that telcos will adopt multiple approaches. Which one they choose will depend on the nature of the services they wish to offer and how aggressively they wish to transform their data centers. There is certainly room and opportunity for new entrants, but we expect the incumbents to retain a good share of the business, as they have shown a willingness to adapt to meet the emerging telco requirements for next-generation data centers.

The Future of Telco Data Center Networking in the SDN Era highlights and analyzes the impact SDN will have on the telco data center networking domain, including the various implementation scenarios and approaches of new-entrant challengers and established vendors. It also provides insight into the current thinking of telco data center operators as regards their emerging requirements and expectations for networking infrastructure. It discusses the likely evolution of data center networking as telcos transform their data centers to support SDN and NFV.


The changing requirements for telco data centers have created an opening for new solutions and new suppliers. This report analyzes the strategies of 12 leading data center networking vendors, including both incumbents and challengers. The challengers are taking varied approaches to data center networking, with some having a targeted focus on networking, while others are concentrating more on applications. The excerpt below offers a brief overview, illustrating each vendor's technology focus and core competencies.

When comparing challenger and incumbent switch vendors, much of the difference has to do with where the value lies in hardware or software and where the intelligence for SDN will reside in the controller or the switch. As the excerpt below shows, challengers are more likely to embrace open-source principles, using Linux for the OS and OpenFlow to communicate with SDN controllers; and are more likely to leverage merchant silicon, rather than develop custom ASICs. In their view, hardware is a commodity, and the value of the solution is in software.

Report Scope & Structure

The Future of Telco Data Center Networking in the SDN Era is structured as follows:

Section I is an introduction to the report, with complete report key findings.

Section II examines the drivers behind the changing telco data center networking environment.

Section III highlights the ways in which vendors are responding to emerging telco requirements for data center networking, in terms of both opex and capex considerations.

Section IV defines and discusses four use cases for data center networking.

Section V outlines the various characteristics used to compare data center switch suppliers, and discusses how incumbents and challengers approach networking challenges and requirements.

Section VI provides short profiles on both challenger and incumbent data center switch vendors.

The Future of Telco Data Center Networking in the SDN Era is published in PDF format.