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Is SDN For Real? And If So, What Is It?

There is no question that SDN is the hot new technology that has suddenly made networking interesting and fun all over again.  With market forecasts estimated in tens of billions, spectacular valuations have been applied to early stage start-ups and every networking vendor worth its salt seems to be coming up with SDN solutions.   It’s raining SDN in the networking industry!

So is SDN for real?  And if so, what is it?

Recently I participated in an industry panel discussion on SDN. One of the questions the panel was asked was exactly this: Is SDN for real?   Here is my perspective on SDN and how we see it at Nuage Networks.

Definition

To us SDN is about bridging the gap between applications and networks to enable the rapid consumption of network services by providing visibility and control to the applications.  It is about providing abstraction of network capabilities and it is about automation of  network provisioning.  It is about separating what applications need from how the network implements it.

Use case

This requirement for rapid consumption of network is most pronounced in the emerging cloud services market driven by the broad-based shift of IT to the cloud.  The CIOs, IT admins and Cloud Service Providers are increasingly facing the challenge of meeting the requirements of rapid deployment of applications wherein the network must quickly adapt to the service requests of applications.  The ultimate goal of an SDN solution is to simplify operations, increase agility and accelerate deployment of new services.   It is for these reasons that SDN is receiving widespread attention from Enterprises and Service Providers that are currently operating networks with burdensome provisioning models and operational complexity.  SDN promises to change it all.

Solution

At Nuage Networks we have developed a highly advanced software-only SDN solution that abstracts, virtualizes and automates any existing datacenter network.

Abstraction

Abstraction of network resources and capabilities drives programmability. Any arbitrary service design for a tenant can be designed with the Nuage Virtualized Services Platform (VSP) using simple high-level constructs.  Examples of such service designs are the three-tier web services, disaster recovery services or hybrid-cloud services with VPN connectivity to the Enterprise.  Role-based hierarchy in the Nuage VSP solution ensures that the top-level admin retains full control and visibility,  yet allows granting of full permissions to a ‘sand-box’ of service templates and design for users in lower levels of the hierarchy.

Automation

The Nuage Networks SDN solution instantly and automatically establishes network connectivity between virtual machines as soon as they are created on a per-tenant basis.  It supports L2-L4 networking services by deploy­ing overlay technologies, to not only address the scaling issues of Layer 2 VLANs, but also optimize Layer 3 traf­fic paths regardless of virtual machine (VM) location. It provides seamless connectivity to Enterprise VPNs.  Layer 4 functions are distributed to reduce the need for centralized firewall appliances in order to secure VM traffic.

Nuage improves server utilization by allowing VMs to be freely placed or relocated wherever compute resources are available, within and across data­centers. By optimizing traffic across the DC fabric, Nuage VSP enables new levels of cloud applica­tion performan­ce and DC fabric efficiencies.

The Nuage Networks SDN solution  delivers on the promise of providing operational simplification and agility, and helps accelerate deployment of new services. This is the real thing.   Our customers are trialing our solution and responding very positively.

One final thought: Our SDN solution not only applies to datacenter/cloud services market but has been designed for wide-ranging applicability well beyond the datacenter network. We will discuss this further in future posts.  Stay tuned.

@SunilSKhandekar

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