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U.K. Enterprises Move Toward SDN Technologies to Assist with Cloud Networking Challenges

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Enterprises in the U.K. are gradually embracing software-defined networks (SDN) and related technologies, with a focus on using SD-WAN to move workloads to the cloud, according to a new report published today by Information Services Group (ISG), a leading global technology research and advisory firm.

The 2020 ISG Provider Lens Network – Software Defined Solutions and Services Partners Report for the U.K. finds many enterprises in the country are looking for managed services providers to help them with their SDN rollouts. In some cases, U.K. enterprises have entered the SDN space by acquiring do-it-yourself equipment from vendors but are finding they lack the internal skills needed to manage SDNs.

As many U.K. enterprises move to cloud computing, they find a multi-cloud environment makes their networks more complicated, the report says. With enterprises using multiple data centers, they find that their applications need access to data that may be scattered across the globe.

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“Customers and end users need access to their applications dynamically and securely, raising a challenge for networks based on old operating models,” said Barry Matthews, partner and leader of ISG North Europe. “SDN providers can design networks that enable several connections with high throughput, helping customers with their cloud-related networking challenges.”

In many cases, U.K. enterprises are looking for service-level agreements from SDN providers that allow for networks to be capable of dynamically changing when new applications are introduced, the report adds.

Customers also want networks that can rapidly recover from natural disasters and other disruptions, the report says. SDN tools need to provide network flexibility that enables a rapid shift to working from home and other major operational changes, and network suppliers have begun to offer next-generation tools.

However, most network service providers still do not have the capability of end-to-end service provisioning for new-age networks, along with troubleshooting, automation and orchestration in these environments, the report says. Because telecoms have provided legacy networks and traditional managed service models, some U.K. enterprises perceive that service providers may not be familiar with cutting-edge technologies. As a result, some enterprises are moving away from traditional network service providers and looking to system integrators and other providers for new SDN services.

The report also finds growing interest in the U.K. in SD-LAN solutions. System integrators proficient with SD-LAN solutions and LAN management, along with integration of the Internet of Things, will have a competitive advantage.

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U.K. enterprises also are interested in Wi-Fi 6, a faster and more secure Wi-Fi standard, the report says. Service providers are working to improve the Wi-Fi experience with analytics and artificial intelligence, targeting the manufacturing and retail industries. Wi-Fi analytics can measure performance from applications and detect user behavior, while, in the retail space, create more revenue channels.

Meanwhile, service providers and system integrators are still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic by encouraging employees to work from home as much as possible, the report notes. Most service providers, while limiting the number of employees who can meet with customers, have reported little impact on their ability to provide service.

The 2020 ISG Provider Lens Network – Software Defined Solutions and Services Partners Report for the U.K. evaluates the capabilities of 52 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 BT, Orange Business Services and Wipro as leaders in all six quadrants and Deutsche Telekom, IBM, Infosys and Vodafone as leaders in five. HCL, TCS and Tech Mahindra are named as leaders in four quadrants, Cisco is named as a leader in two, and Computacenter and VMware are named as leaders in one.

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