The software-defined networking (SDN) discussion is undoubtedly heating up, but so far it's centered largely on solving problems using SDN in the enterprise. Carriers and service providers, on the other hand, are gradually getting into the SDN conversation and sparking the dialogue on how SDN concepts will benefit carrier networks -- a very different paradigm considering that for carriers and telecom providers, the network itself is the "product." Several startups, such as Cyan, are developing SDN systems specifically for the carrier market.
Doug Gourlay, vice president of marketing, service provider and federal sales at Arista Networks, said in December that the programmability aspect of SDN is especially advantageous for carrier market sales. "If my provider asks for a new [network] feature and we build that feature for them, they have it and it's only a matter of time before other competitors build it and have it," Gourlay said. "But if a carrier such as Verizon can develop a new feature in a programmable network rather than buy it, it's a lot harder for competitors to duplicate it."