ManageEngine Thoughts: Software Defined Networking

With Software Defined Networking (SDN) being the new industry buzzword, more and more people including network architects, CIOs and CTOs have started exploring SDN and its capabilities to cater to the growing demands of enterprise and cloud services. Google statistics show there has been an exponential increase in search numbers for Software Defined Networking in recent times.

This industry interest has triggered a wave across networking giants to tag “SDN” for marketing mileage,

Some things in life can never be fully appreciated nor understood unless experienced firsthand. Some things in networking can never be fully understood by someone who neither builds commercial networking equipment nor runs an operational network.

Networking Truths RFC – Ross Collins, Bay Networks

nevertheless the current implementation strategy is very subjective and a sharp deflection is observed against the proposed SDN practice.

Challenges that Seeded SDN

For a long time, the networking industry has been dominated by custom silicon chips fused with proprietary softwares. Enterprises are forced to rely on single vendor solutions for the major portion of the network due to interoperability issues and acute dependencies within the ecosystem of products. This actually leads to an increased total cost of ownership or TCO.

One cannot deny the role Virtualization played in cranking up the networking industry to work on newer technology prototypes to cater to the dynamic nature of applications in this cloud era. In fact, the boundary between the network and application teams is getting thinner due to high demand for complex interdependent functions like unified computing, end-to-end virtualization, application driven QoS treatment, multi tenancy with versatile privacy controls and security.

In my opinion, network administrators spend a significant amount of time on network change control due to lack of centralised change control and other limitations like different protocol specifications, non-standard vendor APIs etc in the current system. There is no standard followed to administer the distributed boxes in a centralised manner and none of the initiatives taken up worked well.

Additionally, Cloud computing introduces newer change control challenges like dynamic provisioning, managing and effective utilization of virtualized resources.

I came up with this SDN toon after looking at Dilbert’s comic strip on Network Design.

My next blog will discuss the following:

  • SDN  – Practical Definition

  • SDN Components

  • Role of OpenFlow

  • How it differs from conventional network design?

  • Where it fits well?

  • What is missing?

  • SDN Martket Watch

  • Enterprise use cases

  • What is the CapEx and OpEx for SDN

  • And finally our opinion on how it is going to affect the Network Management space.


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    About the Author: Shannon Lewis

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