Software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions, including virtualization, are having a big impact on the networking industry by delivering measurable cost savings, faster service delivery, and increased scalability and agility.
Here are four specific ways that SDN is revolutionizing networking:
- Service delivery is becoming more agile and easier to automate: Traditional telecommunications Operations Support Systems (OSS) are complex, expensive systems to operate and need to evolve. This complexity constrains growth in the business by causing slow development time and long “time to revenue” for new or updated product/service rollouts.SDN helps to disrupt this traditional approach through the use of Model-based services and device configuration management, helping to speed up the overall service creation and deployment process, radically improving the delivery time of new (and changes to existing) services and creating a more agile network architecture. With the new model-driven approach to services and devices, organizations are able to more rapidly meet changing business objectives and goals.With the advent of industry standard service and device models (YANG, etc.), CLI (Command Line Interface) device-level configuration management is migrating toward end-to-end service orchestration. SDN facilitates the move from manual configuration and monitoring of network elements using CLI to an automated, service orchestration solution that produces greater cost efficiencies and accelerates time to market. Service orchestration automates the end-to-end management of services, turning months of deployment time into mere weeks, or days.
- Services catalogs speed up service delivery to users: Service catalogs can create streamlined and more efficient delivery of network services, making those services more easily available to the business, when they are needed. A good example of this is being able to dynamically provision more bandwidth and compute resources for a Big Data application. By creating highly structured service options in self-service portals, consumers of IT resources are free to enable the services they need, when they need them, with a solid infrastructure behind it. They can select the services they require, improving not only time-to-service delivery, but also consumer satisfaction.SDN also improves the efficiency and utilization of IT personnel, as they are freed from manual, repetitive tasks, and are able to work on tasks and projects that deliver more value to the business.
- Open Standards allow companies to be freed from “vendor lock-in”: Standard Open interfaces with abstraction at the network infrastructure level are replacing vendor dependencies and proprietary interfaces and functionality. Open application programming interfaces (APIs) enable greater software control of the network.The functionality of SDN also helps to mitigate multi-vendor interoperability issues through technology abstraction, centralized control and API management. SDN’s centralized control functionality provides a “supervisor” over network forwarding behavior and network elements. SDN allows virtual network functions (VNFs) to coexist through software APIs.
- Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) helps reduce the number of physical components and network appliances to manage. SDN enables NFV, which allows network operators and enterprises to replace physical routers, switches and other network components with software running on commodity machines. Additionally, Layer 4-7 functions such as load balancing, firewalls, DHCP and NAT also lend themselves well to NFV form factors and help to substantially reduce the size of the “appliance stack” typically found in either the Data Center or the branch/remote office.NFV holds the promise of much easier configuration and overall management, reducing OpEx, and in the long run, reducing overall capital spend in activating the infrastructure for remote branches/offices.Further, in an active M&A environment, SDN/NFV can also be a key set of technologies to use in order to rationalize infrastructure from multiple companies, setting the merged entity on the path to a converged, SDN-centric infrastructure.
These four examples highlight the beauty and power of SDN. Remember, as a nascent technology, the current capabilities of SDN are always being refined and boundaries constantly pushed to the next level.
Next week’s blog will outline how to get started with SDN.
To learn more about SDN – including how to identify SDN use cases – download our FREE e-book, “Seriously Disruptive Networking: 8 Ways SDN Is Shaking Up The Industry (And How Your Company Can Come Out Ahead)”.