The Software-Defined Networking (SDN) Market in 2022

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Software-defined networking (SDN) is a network management technology and strategy that promotes dynamic and efficient network configuration.

Companies use SDN solutions to improve their network performance and monitoring.

See below to learn all about the global SDN market:

See more: The Storage Area Network (SAN) Market

SDN market

The SDN market had an estimated value of $9.2 billion in 2020. It’s predicted to reach $35.6 billion by 2026, following a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25.4% from 2022 to 2027.

Several geographic regions are driving growth in the SDN market:

  • The U.S. market had an estimated value of $4.1 billion in 2020
  • China has the second largest market share, forecast to reach $7.8 billion by 2027, maintaining a CAGR of 26.2%
  • Japan and Canada are each expected to grow at 14.7% and 18.1% over the forecast from 2020 to 2027
  • Germany is forecast to grow at 17.2% CAGR to 2027
  • The Asia-Pacific market is estimated to reach $5.7 billion by 2027

By industry, the professional services market is forecast to maintain the largest piece of the SDN market with a 70% revenue share. Other notable verticals include:

  • Banking, financial services, and insurance (BFSI)
  • Retail and consumer goods
  • Government 
  • Health care
  • Manufacturing and IT-enabled services

SDN features

SDN solutions aim to improve network control and management. Their architecture consists of three layers: applications, control, and infrastructure, which communicates with APIs.

The application layer

The application layer houses the application your organization uses. This can be anything from cybersecurity systems that detect intrusions and threats to firewalls and load balancers.

Unlike traditional networks that require specialized apps, SDNs use controllers to manage the behavior of the data plane.

The control layer

The control layer is the brain of the SDN. It resides on its own server, managing policies and the flow of data traffic throughout the network.

In the SDN structure, it communicates northbound and southbound with the system’s APIs.

The infrastructure layer

The infrastructure layer is the physical aspect of the network. It consists of the switches that forward the incoming and outgoing network to its target destination.

SDN benefits

As a solution, SDN technology simplifies and streamlines how enterprises manage the data flow within their internal networks.

Other SDN benefits include:

  • Reduces operation complexity
  • Eliminates the need for manual configuration
  • Easy third-party integrations
  • Leverages open APIs for faster time to market
  • Improves network management and visibility
  • Reduces hardware footprint and cuts down costs

“SDN, as an architectural approach, optimizes what these virtualization techniques can accomplish,” says IBM in a white paper on SDN.

“It provides the dynamic intelligence and orchestration that continuously optimizes the utilization and delivery of virtualized network resources and the flow of data across the network infrastructure.”

SDN use cases

Here are several examples of how organizations in various industries have used SDN solutions to better manage their internal networks.

Airbus Helicopters

Airbus Helicopters is a manufacturing division of Airbus. Headquartered in France, it’s one of the largest companies in its market, in terms of both output and revenue. 

The German division, Airbus Helicopters Germany, needed to upgrade its network hardware by replacing Nexus 2000 switches with new Nexus 900-series hardware. Transitioning to Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), it obtained the company’s industry-leading SDN solution. 

“Cisco DNA Center includes out-of-the-box ServiceNow integrations. We can use Cisco APIs to automatically open and close technical support tickets when physical and logical issues arise on our campus network,” says Ezequiel Perez-Rodenas, network engineer at Airbus Helicopters, Germany.

“The resulting paradigm shift helped us simplify network management, tighten security, tackle ever-increasing workloads, and embrace IoT and BYOD connectivity.”

The newly implemented SDN network connected several buildings and just under 2,000 users. Airbus Helicopter replaces roughly 20% of its existing infrastructure, approximately 43 switches.


CloudSeeds is a provider of cloud engineering and consulting services since 2013 in Hamburg, Germany. It helps its business clients scale their networks to meet objectives through infrastructure virtualization and IT services.

In order to offer a new class of automated services, CloudSeeds needed a new network platform to meet the demand. Through an open architecture, it can anticipate future growth needs.

“SDN is well used for cloud infrastructure. Using Contrail has allowed us to create a software-defined network that seamlessly integrates disparate locations into a single unified cloud,” says Kevin Fibach, founder and managing director, CloudSeeds.

“Once the equipment is physically in place and the software overlay is ready to go, it only takes minutes to bring up new servers, or we can even deploy a whole new data center for customers in a few hours.”

The result was zero-touch provisioning of the network that allows services to be provisioned in minutes instead of weeks. The new SDN infrastructure is resilient and cost-effective.


Ensono is a provider of managed IT services for cloud transformation. It works with companies from around the globe, helping them adopt network solutions that enable growth and efficiency.

Ensono was looking to expand its private cloud to meet the climbing demand for networking and security services with audits and compliance requirements. It also needed a way to support its rapid growth, while maintaining a minimal increase in the number of staff.

Implementing multiple offerings from VMware, Ensono was able to elevate its network infrastructure to meet its needs and future expectations.

“With NSX, we were able to provide self-service and API access to our customers, whilst adding enhanced security features, like Distributed Firewall and Micro-Segmentation,” says Steven Lord, senior manager of product management, Ensono.

“With automation front and center in the project, we not only made operations easier for our customers, but also provided an automated disaster recovery (DR) platform on the Ensono Private Cloud, with easy testing in the software-defined DR bubble.”

Ensono reports it was able to save between $10 and $15 million over the course of five years since implementing VMware’s SDN solutions. It has improved control of its IT environment, automating the deployment of virtual machines and security layers in minutes.

SDN providers

Some of the leading vendors of SDN solutions in the market include:

  • Cisco
  • VMware
  • Juniper Networks
  • IBM
  • Lumina
  • Colt Technology
  • Versa Networks
  • Junos Space
  • Masergy
  • Nuage Networks

See more: Best Data Storage Solutions and Software

Anina Ot
Anina Ot
Anina Ot is a contributor to Enterprise Storage Forum and Datamation. She worked in online tech support before becoming a technology writer, and has authored more than 400 articles about cybersecurity, privacy, cloud computing, data science, and other topics. Anina is a digital nomad currently based in Turkey.

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