There is huge demand on the technology infrastructure as businesses today are subjected to multiple pressures from different quarters. Faster responses at reduced costs, and scalable and agile operations, are some of the expected outcomes from IT infrastructure leading to increased demands on the network. In this context, Software-Defined Networking (SDN) aims to address the growing demands of enterprises and is set to emerge as the nerve-center of organizations of the future.
In fact according to IDC, SDN is likely to become a $2 billion market by 2016. The promise of a virtual network infrastructure allowing a business to respond in quick time to changing market requirements is the chief benefit that can be expected from SDN.
SDN is an approach to computer networking, where only the CPU/management functionality is isolated and centralized. SDN shapes network traffic by having a console with a centralized controller, thus avoiding the problems of configuring individual switches. Any configuration or policy/granular change in the entire network can be done centrally. Hence, the time consumed during a network upgrade for a large enterprise or for the service provider infrastructure can be reduced drastically. Due to this flexible and efficient management and control in the network, compared to the conventional switch architecture, SDN is considered to be the best fit for a cloud computing environment.
SDN the Best Fit for Cloud Computing
Traditional network structures are more suited for the client-server environment and hence are not able to address the changing requirements of today. The key trigger for SDN is the proliferation of smart and mobile devices, and the growth in virtualization and cloud platforms. Further, there is the added complexity of anywhere, anytime and any device data access thanks to the ‘consumerization of IT’ trend. All this has resulted in a utility computing model comprising a private cloud, public cloud, or a hybrid, causing more traffic.
SDN offers a multitude of benefits both to the networking and cloud community. Owing to its complexity, and the existence of legacy systems, the chances of rapid SDN adoption by enterprises are slim. For an enterprise to embark on this SDN journey on its own without the required expertise would have huge impact on cost and resources, infrastructure and personnel. Bringing in an expert partner would therefore help it avoid the common pitfalls and effect a smooth transition.
I believe the adoption of SDN technology will be gradual over many years as with previous significant networking waves such as Ethernet connectivity, IP internetworking, VoIP, wireless LANs, etc. Full market acceptance and widespread deployment will take five-ten years to develop. While the approach shows great promise, many teething problems will have to be ironed out before full-fledged adoption is possible.
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