This blog post is an excerpt from our recent report, Software-Defined Networking: Keeping Pace With Network Complexity In The Public Sector. Download the full report here.
When it comes to software-defined networking, Force 3’s experts explain the concept—including its relevance to customers and the best practices for adoption—using four principles. These guidelines provide insight into the specifics of software-defined networking (SDN) and how to maximize its benefits for your organization.
Large, distributed networking environments require numerous manual touches, consequently decreasing efficiency and risking security. In a non-centralized network, it’s harder to push updates or see everything happening, not to mention compare traffic or performance. This provides a more effective way to interact with the networks in order to drive changes.
SDN eliminates these concerns by centralizing management of networking capabilities. Meanwhile, it also consolidates and enhances network visibility and allows users to drive changes into the infrastructure from a central touch-point.
Network abstraction builds on network automation. While network automation allows us to drive infrastructure changes in a much more effective, less error-prone manner, network abstraction builds on that same concept.
Network abstraction allows you to deliver services anywhere in the network. Essentially, the network is abstracted using intelligent software in the software-defined networking paradigm. As a result, instead of purpose-filled network functions, IT departments can uniformly deliver services in a more abstracted manner anywhere on the infrastructure.
For network automation, traditionally when you stand up a server (like a virtual machine) you allocate the CPU, memory and storage resources, but then you also have to involve the security team and put the firewall rules into place. You have to engage the network team and define the virtual local area network (VLAN) required for the virtual machine.
But SDN combines all of that via automation, from building the virtual machine to what VLAN it has to be on, which security parameters it requires and its connection to that virtual machine for user access, along with communication between servers within the data center.
When the server is built, whether it’s in production or development, all the relevant network and security parameters are also automated. It eases the burden to configure all required parameters for this virtual machine to be operationally accessible.
Another feature of the intelligent software that drives the SDN infrastructure is programmability.
We’re interacting with the network in a much more programmatic fashion. This lets us make infrastructure changes that properly reflect the state, the requirements of the networks, and what they need from the network.
SDN products provide programmability through open REST APIs (a common set of functions allowing moves, adds and changes via HTTP protocols). These APIs allow for two enhancements. First, SDN functions can be scripted to accelerate workload deployment. Second, the openness of the APIs allows for tight integration with other related programs, whether they come from the same vendor or a third-party vendor enhancing the solution. This provides a new level of powerful capabilities, enabling a multi-vendor solution.