CIOs across the region are already feeling the benefits of SDN, with faster network provisioning and orchestrating, reduced management time and the risk of human error, along with the faster deployment of applications, services and infrastructure. Nonetheless, CNME’s SDN roundtable drew a range of cautious attitudes from attendees, who were keen to ensure the technology was tried and tested before they made the final pushes into adoption.
Prasanna Rupasinghe, Director of Information Technology, Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates, set the tone for the discussion by summarising what he expected from the technology. “In a word, I want ‘simplicity’ from SDN,” he said. “It’s important that SDN can allow us to virtually move networks and still have capacity planning. At Kempinski we have different clients coming into the premises every day, so it’s essential to provision services as quickly as possible. We require direct services, and that is what the introduction of SDN has to bring.”
As with any technology that can bring increased business benefit in this day and age, SDN brings added complexity, which could invite security risks. Devender Manral, Chief Information Officer, NMC Healthcare, was eager to highlight potential hazards, “I think a main concern for a large number of us is what exactly is going on from a security and performance perspective,” he said. “It is essential that the necessary dashboards can provide real-time insights into the network.”
Ajay Rathi, Head of IT, Meraas Holding, echoed these sentiments, “Until enterprises have some sort of reassurance on a number of fronts then I think it is difficult for us to make the leap to SDN,” he says. “It may seem like a negative approach but IT leaders have an obligation to be vigilante and do their due diligence when it comes to implementing new technologies.”
Although the Middle East has been on the heels of the U.S. and Europe in terms of technology development, there remains an understandable skepticism throughout large parts of the IT industry when it comes to adopting new technology. Hussam Alnowais, Director of IT, twofour54, flew the flag for adopting a more prudent approach, “Until the concept of SDN matures, I don’t believe regional adoption will be that high,” he said. “Personally, I want to see the technology establish a proven track record. I’m a small fish; I don’t manage the IT for a large corporation, so I want to see ideas tried and tested, with proven maturity and standards. At the moment SDN lacks all these things, and until I see them I can’t take the risk of adopting it.”
Shabbir Ahmad, Regional Sales Director, Networking, EMEA Emerging Countries, Dell, framed SDN as a technology that would require patience but would make in time make its mark. “With SDN it’s maybe an issue of time, and getting reliability in the market,” he said. “We don’t see it as complex or expensive; customers who are adopting private and public clouds are seeing huge benefits, they can easily provision bandwidth and storage.”