Brocade NZ: SDN - definitions, benefits, and misconceptions

In the last 12-18 months, Software Defined Networks (SDN) has been much touted as a data centre saviour.

In the last 12-18 months, Software Defined Networks (SDN) has been much touted as a data centre saviour.

A saviour that can transform the network, unlock critical intelligence, and help deliver the new services and powerful analytics needed to run on-demand applications for today’s businesses and consumers.

IDC has even gone so far as to predict that the SDN market in Asia Pacific will surpass the $1 billion mark by 2018.

Amid all of the hype and excitement, it can be difficult for IT leaders to tell fact from fiction.

This is a closer look at what SDN is, why it matters, and examine some of the myths and fears that have built up around the technology.

A New IP approach to networking

By definition, SDN refers to the separation of the control plane from the data plane within a network.

This will be critical to the development of a New IP since it allows an IT department to deploy programmatic controls and orchestration across the whole network, rather than having to provision, configure and manage specific devices on a case-by-case basis.

While there are a number of benefits to this approach, there are three critical ones that really make SDN significant for businesses: automation, rapid application deployment and ease of network management.

SDN brings greater automation to an otherwise complicated world. Organisations that want to run an application within a public cloud environment would normally use a self-service portal to manually provision the required resources.

This is not only time consuming, and therefore costly, it can also leave a business vulnerable to misconfigurations due to human error.

With SDN, customers only need to select the application they want to run in the cloud and the resources required.

The intelligence of the control plane, through orchestration, will then intuitively deploy the service using the optimal configuration of compute, storage and network resources.

Being able to deploy and scale applications rapidly can make or break a business. If an employee does not have to manually provision the compute, storage and network resources needed to deliver an application, businesses are able to get new services up and running much quicker.

In addition to easing employee access, SDN can boost a company’s competitive advantage, as it is able to respond to the ever-changing business landscape and limit time-to-market on any new offerings.

Lastly, SDN will drastically alter how network infrastructures are configured and managed.

By separating the control function from the rest of the network, SDN enables IT teams to manage network environments in a way that gives them an aerial view of the business. What that means is, business no longer operate in a collection of siloes.

While greater automation, rapid application deployment and ease of network management have the ability to transform businesses, this is still early days for SDN.

New solutions and approaches are being developed all the time but a fully software defined world is unlikely to become a reality for some time to come.

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