Software Defined Networking (SDN) is disrupting the networking industry as never before. SDN started as an academic exercise to separate the control plane from the data plane in networking devices but found it’s bearing as a way to automate and instantiate network state in highly scaled and dynamic datacenter/cloud environments. The use cases for SDN in the datacenter span from IaaS, PaaS and Service Chaining to Datacenter Interconnect, Hybrid cloud and NFV (Network Functions Virtualization).
Beyond those use-cases, SDN found it’s 2nd home in the WAN (Wide Area Network). SD-WAN is a way of replacing or augmenting traditional enterprise VPN service (such as MPLS or VPLS) with a secure automated connectivity model that can work on any access network (MPLS, Internet or 3G/LTE) and a policy and network state is programmed into standardized end devices (x86 based CPEs) by a cloud based management and policy plane. Some of the most common use cases for SD-WAN include Hybrid WAN (ability to use multiple access networks simultaneously), Value Added Services for the branch, seamless interconnectivity to public clouds, Off-net extension services (ability to connect “external” branch sites over the internet to “internal” branch locations bonded by L2/L3 VPN). SDN is also showing its relevance in other network domains such as Security, IoT, Core Transport and Mobile Backhaul.
The fundamental proposition of SDN is to automate network provisioning, management and control via centralized software based policy/control engines controlling network endpoints. These centralized engine exposes network state to end users via APIs and abstractions, simplifying the whole process and making it agile, dynamic and highly responsive. The benefits include simplified operations, real time network responsiveness, reduced network complexity and ability to create new service offerings quickly and offer them as on-demand services to the end-user. The benefits reflect themselves in reduced OpEx & CapEx as well as higher top line growth via new services that are deployed faster regardless of where the end-user is connected.
The rise of SDN has coincided with an increase in the number of players in the market offering SDN solutions. They span everyone from traditional network equipment vendors to startups to enterprise software companies. Everyone is touting the benefits and differentiation of their approach and promising a new dawn. Navigating this labyrinth can be a challenging exercise for any enterprise or service provider looking to adopt SDN. So what should you look for in a SDN solution before investing? What are the standout properties of an offering that will stand the test of time, not just from a technology, but also from an operational and total cost of ownership (TCO) perspective? There are 4 principles (or tests) that you can apply to vet out the SDN offerings. Once you shortlist the vendors that meet these 4 principles, you can move into the next stage of properly evaluating the technical and business case fit for each of them before picking the one the most suitable solution that addresses your short-term as well as long-term needs.
Read the full post on the Open Networking User Group blog