So it’s no grand surprise that VMware was going to buy someone in the SDN (software defined networking) space, but $1.26B for such a young company?  Anyway, shock aside, software defined networking is here to stay and VMware’s acquisition certainly gives the space another boost, not that it needed one given Cisco’s recent moves and the broad industry support behind OpenFlow.  For those of you wondering what the heck I’m talking about, you can check out this whitepaper.

It’s clear to me that software defined networks are going to be in the future of networking and will likely move beyond adoption in just big networks to also play a role in the mid-market and smaller networks.  Of course, the penetration into the mid-market will take much longer, but there’s too much inherent value that will be created by the shift for the move not to happen.

Today SDNs are being touted in the high end data centers because they solve a real problem in terms of what it takes to create a network fabric that works in tandem with the speed of the cloud.  The folks at VMware did a post that describes the strategy behind the acquisition and I think it articulates the problem well.  But the promise of low cost commodity networking hardware with specialized software that runs on top of it is an appealing one.  Think about what it would have cost Google to run their data centers on IBM hardware versus what they’ve done with commodity hardware. Now replicate that on the networking side with Cisco hardware versus commodity hardware. 

If you’re in a mid-size company you might think that this doesn’t apply to you because you don’t have the data center scale that Google has, but don’t be fooled.  Software defined networking will mean lower hardware costs and a more flexible network.  You get to buy commodity hardware and really just manage the controllers (software).  Now SDNs have a long way to go, they don’t offer all the network services that traditional networking technologies offer today, but those will come.

For our part, we are constantly looking and listening to the feedback you give us on when you’re adopting these new technologies and the challenges that you’re having with them. Some of our customers are already leveraging our products to do some work with products from companies like Vyatta (see the device template on thwack), but many of you may not have started.

So, when will software defined networks make it in to your business?  Let us know.