With emphasis on virtualization, big data, and other challenges that are causing headaches for some IT professionals, there is an emerging network architecture that could solve many of their problems. This architecture is called software-defined networking (SDN), and it could revolutionize how IT heads control their networks and manage their business needs.

SDN is an up-and-coming architecture that decouples the network control and forwarding functions. The result is that the network is programmable and the infrastructure surrounding it can be used for applications as well as network services. The increase of network control makes SDN especially desirable for startups and traditional wide area network (WAN) optimization appliance vendors,IHS reported. The global information firm found that the SDN market grew to $1.4 billion in 2015, up 82 percent from the previous year.

What is making SDN increasingly popular to small and large businesses alike? Here are five trends driving businesses to use SDN, according to the Open Networking Foundation:

1. Big data is putting more pressure on networks.

A major issue IT heads have had to deal with is the rise in demand for bandwidth to accommodate big data and its applications. Companies are gathering more information on customers, their products and services, and even their employees’ performance. This means more pressure on networks to handle the flow of traffic and information. SDN could alleviate this pressure by making way for a high-bandwidth environment.

2. Cloud applications and services are booming.

It’s hard to mention SDN without mentioning the cloud. With more businesses storing their sensitive information in the cloud, the need to access this data quickly and reliably makes it essential to look into SDN.

3. BYOD policies are taking over.

To cut tech costs, companies are increasingly turning to bring your own device (BYOD) programs. Almost three-fourths of companies either already use BYOD or are considering it, according to Tech Pro Research. IT professionals will have to prepare their networks for employee devices, which means more support and security will be required. A dynamic infrastructure like SDN ensures that requirements for these devices can be met.

4. Globalization and outsourcing are on the rise.

As companies take advantage of the power of globalization and are expanding across various locations or even continents, their networks will have to grow with them. SDN facilitates the cloud services and applications that make it easier for workers to communicate and collaborate with each other. It also makes managing traffic and adjusting bandwidth quickly less difficult.

5. Progress is being made in open APIs and standards.

SDX Central notes that SDN could grow as API refinements and open standards develop and progress. One of the reasons why this is the case is the increase in cooperation between the Open Networking Foundation and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute. The focus on optimizing the standards and specifications for the telecommunications industry is key.

With these five factors helping to grow the SDN market, IT professionals should carefully consider whether the changing tech environment makes use of this dynamic infrastructure not only a trend, but a necessity for their own business.