Momentum for software defined networking is growing, with a new IHS survey finding three quarters of operators have deployed the technology or are planning to this year.
Michael Howard, Senior Research Director, Carrier Networks at IHS said operators are investing in the technology as they look to automate their networks and transform internal processes, operations and service offerings.
He said: "Service providers believe that SDN will fundamentally change telecom network architecture and deliver benefits in service agility, time to revenue, operational efficiency and capex savings.
"And these operators want SDN in most parts of their networks. Survey respondents’ top three SDN-targeted network domains for deployment by the end of 2017 are within data centres, between data centres and access for businesses."
The survey also found operators are shifting from proofs of concept to commercial deployments.
However, Howard said operators were remaining cautious in their experimentation with the technology. He added: "Momentum is strong, but it will be many years before bigger parts of networks or entire networks are controlled by SDN—although a few operators are leading the way including AT&T, Level 3, Colt, Orange Business Systems, SK Telecom and Telefónica, among others."
The survey found the main barriers to entry included a lack of carrier grade products and the integration of virtual networking into existing networks.
Howard added: "Carriers are learning that some avenues are not as fruitful as expected, and telecom equipment manufacturers and software suppliers may well invent new approaches that open up new applications."