(Editor’s note: contributed blogs like this are part of ChannelBuzz.ca’s annual sponsorship program. Find out more here. This article was authored by Cheryl Neal, vice president of supplier business management for security and networking solutions with Avnet Technology Solutions in the Americas.)
There are a variety of business factors that are driving the need for organizations across all industries to upgrade their networks. In general, businesses are looking to be more agile and cost efficient in deploying technology solutions, while supporting the move to third-platform technologies. Ethernet fabrics and Software-Defined Networking (SDN) not only provide a modern approach for virtualized and cloud environments, they also support all the other major initiatives driving technology and business today – in particular, social media, big data analytics and increased mobility.
As for SDN, it has been estimated that between 30 and 40 percent of all networking spending could be influenced by SDN over the next few years – meaning that the market could reach as much as $35 billion by 2018.1
To determine whether and/or when customers and prospects will need Ethernet fabrics and SDN, resellers have to know as much about the customers as possible. It is important to know which network switches and technologies they have in place, and whether they are tied to any particular vendors. It’s also necessary to understand their business goals and challenges, and which applications, workloads and use cases are driving their next-generation initiatives.
Here are some of the most important questions that systems integrators, VARs and solution providers should be asking when researching the business opportunity for their organizations in network design and implementation:
- What is the overview of the customer’s existing environment, including the network equipment they are using, the number of users, geographic coverage, critical applications, plans for growth, etc.? It is important to have a strong baseline to understand how to address each customer’s unique challenges.
- What is the extent of virtualization already in use, and what is planned?
- What types of cloud services are being used by the organization?
- What role will the solution provider play in network design, architecture, deployment and ongoing management/maintenance?
- What are the customer’s business goals? Is the customer looking to save money, simplify manageability, support mobile initiatives, etc.?
- What is the budget allocated for this project?
- What kind of talent/expertise does the customer have/need in designing, building and managing networks? What about certifications and other areas of expertise required of the systems integrator?
- How can your organization spot new business opportunities (i.e., how do you determine what kinds of clients/prospects are ripe for a network upgrade to Ethernet fabrics and/or SDN)?
Businesses in all industries need virtualization and the cloud in order to drive down IT costs and enhance agility. They can’t be in a position where their underlying network infrastructures are inhibitors and bottlenecks to achieving critical business goals. Therefore, they need solutions that address the performance and manageability challenges of network design and deployment. That’s where Ethernet fabrics and software-defined networks come into play. In order to best understand your customer and help them transition to a next-generation network, make sure you’re asking the questions above. If you have any more questions about how to start the conversation around software-defined networking, feel free to comment below, or reach out to me at Cheryl.Neal@avnet.com.
- “SDN Market Size Expected to Reach $35B by 2018,” SDN Central, Apr. 24, 2013