Hong Kong firms keen on SDN/NFV

Gigi Onag
SDN Insights

SDN and NFV continue to dominate CIO conversations in Hong Kong, as tech execs struggle to squeeze scalability and performance out of their networks.

Evan Zeng, research director at Gartner, says that both SDN and NFV are key network technology trends in Hong Kong and across the region. But confusion still reigns, he adds.

“Many enterprise customers ask whether they should implement SDN and NFV,” says Zeng. “However, end users are confused about what exactly constitutes SDN as there’s no consensus definition of SDN in the industry.”

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Zeng says that Gartner is currently tracking over 1,500 type-A enterprises which have started to adopt both network technologies. “We expect that by the end of 2016, this number will go beyond 10,000,” he predicts.

In Hong Kong, vendors gave divergent views about the uptake of both SDN and NFV in the past year. “We’ve seen increasing interest and experimentation with SDN and NFV solutions from both our customers and other service providers,” says Darrin Webb, executive director, international operations and services at Telstra, adding that customers’ misconceptions about the two technologies have begun to clear “as most organizations have distinct strategies and roadmaps for both technologies.”    

Webb pointed out that the misconception today about SDN and NFV is around the benefits that both bring. “Most companies are focusing on cost savings and network optimization instead of trying to harness the technology to drive business transformation,” he says.     

The switch to higher-end switches    

Many enterprises in the city are spending more on re-architecting data center networks and upgrading from 1G servers and storage connections to 10G connections, says Joseph Lee, product director for Hong Kong at H3C.    

“In 2015, we saw the biggest growth in data center-grade switch upgrades, specifically in the area of 10G-40G high performance switches,” says Lee.    

These higher-end switches can support SDN and network virtualization. “Many Hong Kong firms are upgrading their campus core switches to increase bandwidth and enhance performance to prevent networks from becoming a bottleneck,” says Lee. “I think these will be the same key spending areas in data networks and infrastructure to meet data center and IT requirements in 2016.”     
“In 2015 we saw customers in Hong Kong and Macau build their cloud data centers,” says Billy Yeung, systems engineer for Hong Kong and Macau at Juniper Networks. “These customers include a number of casinos, as well as enterprise customers such as Nike and UBS.”    

Both Lee and Yeung say that while interest for both SDN and NFV is high among Hong Kong enterprises, actual deployments remain low.    

“We are certainly seeing more enquiries from a broad spectrum of sectors,” says H3C’s Lee. “These include large government departments and enterprises Ð they’re not just researching these technologies but actively planning projects and submitting them for funding.”    

Juniper’s Yeung believes Hong Kong SMEs are likely to go the service provider route rather than deploy SDN and NFV in their own networks.    

“Deploying SDN and NFV makes sense for large companies,” says Yeung. “But many SMEs see these types of technologies as more suitable for service providers. In future, because of economies of scale, they are likely use external service providers to tap the benefits of both technologies.”  

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