How to sell SDN

The most important thing about presenting SDN to a potential Customer, and about how you need to focus your Presentation, and I cannot stress this enough: your entire speech needs to be adapted to your audience.

1. Networking and Security Department

What you need to know before you start planning the presentation:
Before we get to the point, you need to understand that the Networking guys do not want SDN. Within the Networking department you will easily distinguish two types of engineers:
- The ones who hate SDN, hate you for presenting it, and just want to continue doing things their own way.
- The ones who understand that unless they understand and learn SDN, the System guys will choose the product, learn it, and take care of Networking themselves, making the Networking department obsolete. You should always direct to this group in your presentations.

What's the most positive thing SDN brings to the table?

SDN is a concept of a Network that is Multi-Tenant, that has a single point of control of the entire Network, and most importantly - allows you to "consume" the Network using the APIs. This means that the Network department can give your Developers, or Cloud Admins, the tools and teach them to consume the Network. This way you avoid a usual delay that Networking department needs to configure Networking and Security for the new Apps and Services, and most importantly - the concept of Tenant allows them to use overlapping IPs, VLANs, Names, without ever being able to compromise the stability of your Network.

What will they want to know? Here is a day to day of a Network Admin:
- Something stops working.
- In average it takes around 10 micro seconds before someone says "Hey, maybe it's a networking issue?"
- Regardless if your Network Admin has "more important stuff to do", he ends having to verify the entire Networking environment, because of a "issue in a production environment" and everything goes on top of the network.
- The issue gets resolved. More often then not, Network Admins get no feedback about how they solved it.

Network Admins just want no one to shout at them because something isn't working correctly.

This just means that the only thing the Network Admins will be demanding from your SDN solution is a set of easy-to-use  Troubleshooting tools. Have this in mind when preparing your presentation.

1. Systems/Cloud Department
What's the most positive thing SDN brings to the table?
Networking department is handling so many "critical production issues" that they hardly have any time to provision the networking for new services. Even when they have time, they have to take so much care just not to break something in the network while configuring new stuff. In the world where it takes us seconds to bring up a new instance of VM or a Container, the current Network model just won't do. System guys need a way to simply provision the networking without writing an essay to the Networking department detailing why their request needs to be prioritized. This is why it will be really easy to make these guys understand (and probably love) any SDN solution you might be presenting.

What will they want to know? This depends on the solution you're trying to position. Have in mind that these guys will love "graphical" solutions, such as VMware NSX and Nokia Nuage , and since they have a limited knowledge of Networking, it will be complicated to explain the advantages of the solution that handles Physical + Virtual Network, such as Cisco ACI and OpenDayLight.

3. Software Developers
Developers have similar "needs" like the System guys, they need a way to simply provision and secure the communication flows. If you tell them that the solution you're presenting gives them the possibility to consume the Network using API calls - they're on board.

4. Mixed audience
This is probably the most complex audience you can possibly have when talking about SDN, because each of the departments will understand the concept in a different manner. Be sure that you can handle the opened discussion, you have to be a true SDN Ninja to handle the "lost in translation" paradox that will occur. I strongly advice you to bring both, Networking/SDN and Systems Experts to a presentation of this type, and make sure that YOUR experts agree on what SDN is before you let them approach the client as a team.


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