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Opinion: There’s no such thing as SDLAN (yet)

04 Feb 2019
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Article by Gartner Research vice president Andrew Lerner

We are increasingly seeing network vendors market things such as SD-LAN, SD-Access, SD-Campus…etc.

This sounds really great, who doesn’t want software-defined everything. That said, there is no official/unofficial definition, and it means a wide variety of things ranging from simple software-based images to really good orchestration/automation.

Or in other words, when something isn’t defined, vendors take way too much poetic license.

As we recently published:

There is no official, unofficial, or even de facto definition of the terms “SDLAN,” “SD-Access” or “SD-Campus.” Vendors typically use this terminology to describe embedded automation, programmability via APIs and software-centric licensing. However, there is a very broad range of functionality depth and breadth in these offerings.

Maybe there should be a definition, and if so perhaps we/Gartner should help to create it. However, at this point I don’t see something fundamentally different from an architectural perspective (a la SDN) or a specific packaging/bundling of capabilities (like SDWAN) that warrants a new term.

Automation, orchestration, and programmability for network devices (or a collection of devices) are all very good things.

The ability to create policy simply and centrally via software and apply it to a number of downstream devices is a good thing. The ability to manage a bunch of devices as a single construct is a good thing.

We should prefer solutions that have those capabilities. We should prefer solutions that offer flexible pricing options.

Along these lines, we should future-proof campus network investments by performing a proof of concept (POC) that verifies unified and fabric management, dynamic device profiling, and automated policy in our environments.

However, I think we can do that without another marketing term like SDLAN. But who knows…