The early adopters of software defined everything (SDE) were the hyperscalers, who were also dealing with massive amounts of data and increasing demand for data centre capacity. These companies embraced the software defined principle to manage their data centres and to offer the best services to their end-users.


Listed below are the major milestones in the journey of the SDE theme, as identified by GlobalData.

1970s – The first routers and Ethernets were developed.

1980s – Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) and IPv6 were introduced.

2004 – The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) decoupled control and forwarding functions in networks.

2004VMware started selling virtualisation software, which split servers into several virtual machines.

How well do you really know your competitors?

Access the most comprehensive Company Profiles on the market, powered by GlobalData. Save hours of research. Gain competitive edge.

Company Profile – free sample

Thank you!

Your download email will arrive shortly

Not ready to buy yet? Download a free sample

We are confident about the unique quality of our Company Profiles. However, we want you to make the most beneficial decision for your business, so we offer a free sample that you can download by submitting the below form

By GlobalData

2005 – The term software defined networking (SDN) is defined in an article in MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Technology Review.

2006 – AWS (Amazon Web Services), having transformed the efficiency of its own (information technology) IT operations, started offering IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) for sale.

2008 – The original concept for OpenFlow began at Stanford University.

2008 – Nirica donated the first OpenFlow based controller NOX to the research community.

2009 – Version 1.0 of the OpenFlow switch specification was released.

2010 – The first solutions for 100G Ethernet were introduced.

2011 – The Open Networking Foundation was formed. It promoted OpenFlow-based SDN technologies.

2011 – Facebook launched Open Compute Project, a community for open source data centre hardware.

2012 – VMWare acquired Nicira, the company which developed the first SDN controller, for $1.3bn.

2012 – Google disclosed that it has begun deploying OpenFlow SDN technology in its data centres.

2013 – The Linux Foundation founded the OpenDaylight Project, an open source framework for SDN adoption.

2013 – Cisco launched Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), an SDN offering for data centres and cloud.

2013 – Huawei launched SoftCom, an SDN controller based on OpenFlow 1.3 for carriers.

2014 – Facebook released FBOSS, Linux based switch software for open switching systems.

2014 – Google launched Andromeda, a software defined network underlying its cloud.

2014 – The Open Networking Lab (ON.Lab) released the ONOS source code to the open source community.

2015 – Microsoft and GTT Communications completed a subsea cable linking the UK, Ireland, and Canada.

2015 – Intel purchased FPGA design company Altera for $16.7bn and entered the FPGA (field programmable gate array) industry.

2016 – Alibaba joined the OpenDaylight project and released its SDN controller.

2016 – Many data centre operators upgraded their optical interconnect equipment from 40G to 100G.

2017 – Microsoft, Facebook, and Telxius completed the subsea cable to cross the Atlantic.

2018 – Google announced its first private trans-Atlantic cable.

2018 – Facebook launched the Minipack AS8000 switch, a white box network switch platform.

2018 – Leading data centre operators started migrating to 400G data speeds.

2018 – Verizon partnered up with Cisco and Juniper Networks to simplify its network through SDN.

2019 – Cisco entered the chip market and started supplying to Facebook and Microsoft.

2019 – AT&T achieved a milestone of 75% of MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching) tunnel traffic on its core network controlled by SDN.

2020 – During the COVID-19 pandemic, organisations that had deployed SDN quickly adjusted to new traffic patterns and network requirements resulting from work-from-home mandates.

2022 – Many more traditional enterprises will be using SDE in their own data centres.

2024 – The SDN controller market will be worth $8bn. Software defined storage platforms revenues will pass $19bn.

2024 – The rise of intelligent intent-based networks will make human intervention negligible.

2025 – 5G will be based on Open RAN, and telecom operators can control infrastructure from any vendor.

2025 – The data centre industry will see mainstream adoption of 1000G interconnects.

2030 – Most networks will be software defined, allowing enterprises to freely switch between telecom operators.

2030 – All data centres will be software defined and programmable.

This is an edited extract from the Software Defined Everything – Thematic Research report produced by GlobalData Thematic Research.