Few initiatives epitomise the drive to make networks more intelligent than software defined networking. And the cutting edge work, as Richard Irving discovers, is not on the ground but in the cloud.
The fight back has begun. For much of 2012, leading equipment makers like Cisco and Alcatel-Lucent struggled to dispel mounting fears that they would be driven out of business by the march towards software defined networking (SDN) – a game-changing technology that strips away the need for expensive switches and routers by taking all the intelligence out of the network and handing it to a central computer that can be programmed in an almost limitless way.
Now they are looking to reassert their dominance in a market that will be worth more than $300 million this year and possibly billions by the end of 2016. And the battlefield on which they are mustering their forces is not, as most analysts anticipated, the wide area network, but in the cloud.
In recent months, Alcatel, Cisco and Juniper have all announced acquisitions or initiatives drawing together fledgling SDN projects and cloud-based services....
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