Nordic enterprises want more network flexibility as they move to the cloud

Enterprises in the Nordic region are turning to software-defined networking (SDN) technologies to increase their agility and make their networks more flexible as they move workloads to the cloud, according to a new report published by Information Services Group (ISG), the global technology research and advisory firm.

The 2020 ISG Provider Lens Network – Software Defined Solutions and Services Partners Report for the Nordics finds enterprises in the region embracing SDN technologies as they seek faster and more stable connectivity for use with cloud computing services. SDN also gives enterprises a more dynamic network architecture that enables them to better meet future business requirements, the report adds.

“Many Nordic enterprises see software-defined wide area network and related technologies as a one-stop-shop for cloud networking requirements,” said Barry Matthews, partner and leader, ISG North Europe. “As enterprises move to the cloud, internet connectivity becomes extremely important, and SDN provides better connectivity than traditional networking technologies.”

Nordic enterprises want to restructure their networks to align them with their cloud journeys, the report says. Workloads are being distributed, with company workforces able to access them from anywhere with zero-touch security. At the same time, networking customers are demanding the agility to launch new sites and solutions while reducing their total cost of ownership.

SD-WAN has become a mature solution in the Nordics, with most service providers offering solutions that include a single data plane and a control plane that gives access to not only the enterprise private data center but also the public data center or public cloud. SDN stretches across public and private clouds, creating a hybrid cloud SDN solution.

The report notes that SDN uptake in the Nordics began three to four years ago, when service providers and system integrators primarily considered the volume of data that would hit data centers and campus networks, but not the variety and speed of data. Service providers were surprised when edge networks were flooded with innovations, and enterprises demanded vertical-specific tools, including locational analytics mapped to consumer behaviour.

Various industries in the Nordics have specific networking needs, such as the use of the Internet of Things in a zero-latency architecture to enable remote-control machines in the mining and construction industries, the report says.

In addition, Nordic enterprises are making network abstraction a priority, the report says. Network abstraction allows customers to make the network more programable and agile and enable services such as proactive automation and mitigation. Enterprises are no longer considering the network as a collection of hardware; instead, they are monitoring their networks to identify outages and improve overall performance, while analysing their networks to optimise business initiatives.

The report also finds Nordic enterprises frequently using multiple carriers to maintain flexibility and the ability to dynamically reallocate bandwidth or acquire additional bandwidth. The skills needed in the network space include supporting the cloud, managing networks, automating network functions and developing business initiatives.

Finally, the report notes many service providers are taking steps to protect against the COVID-19 pandemic, with some cutting back on non-emergency remote access for virtual demonstrations of new network capabilities, and some curtailing real-time demonstrations at labs or centres of excellence. Some regional providers have adopted end-to-end, data-driven approaches to analyze network traffic trends and seasonality as a way to predict peak consumption periods affected by people working from home.

The 2020 ISG Provider Lens Network – Software Defined Solutions and Services Partners Report for the Nordics evaluates the capabilities of 43 providers across six quadrants: Managed WAN Services, Managed SD-WAN Services, SDN Transformation Services (Consulting and Implementation), SD-WAN Equipment and Service Supplies (DIY), Network Technologies Suppliers (Core to Mobile), and Mobile Network (4G/5G) Additional (Non-Core) Services.

The report names IBM, Orange Business Services and Wipro as leaders in all six quadrants, and Deutsche Telekom as a leader in five. HCL and TCS are named leaders in four quadrants, and Infosys and Telenor are named leaders in three. BT, Cisco, Ericsson, Tech Mahindra and Telia are named leaders in two quadrants and Dell Technologies is named a leader in one.

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