SDN Adoption: Are Businesses Ready to Jump in?

Enterprises are only scratching the surface of SDN deployment.

There are as many aspects of software-defined networking (SDN) as there are research experts and developers. While SDN is a much-heralded technology, there are varying opinions about its infrastructure and performance. As a result, it is essential to analyze both the high and low points of this new technology. The following information is designed to help enterprises make an informed decision about SDN.

SDN Use Cases

Use cases are instrumental in highlighting the pros and cons of SDN. While SDN is designed to enhance data center and wide area network performance, it is surely not exempt from gaps. In fact, when companies look to adopt SDN, they are primarily looking at its infrastructure. They want networking systems that enable automation and make daily operational challenges easier. The challenge is that SDN infrastructure cannot always meet these objectives. Here is why:

  • SDN infrastructure is only the mechanism or control plane.
  • Companies need network applications to correlate with SDN for optimal efficiency.
  • The right network applications ensure elastic scaling, agile provisioning, and dis-aggregation.
  • Real-time application deployment and automation services need to be integrated within the SDN infrastructure.

SDN on its own cannot fulfill every company directive or goal. The infrastructure relies on compatible and fully integrated apps to ensure maximum functionality and performance.


SDN Integration Example

A good example of integration is SDN technologies running with load balancers. In these scenarios, balancers communicate with SDN controllers to collect information on switch infrastructures. This helps identify potential issues that can impact user experience. If any are found, traffic steering requests are implemented to move flows near the hotspot. This is a crucial since most controllers utilize a ‘set and forget’ approach for program flow.

Another example of SDN integration is when it is utilized to ensure quality of service (QoS).

  • Video requests are handled by application delivery controllers (ADC).
  • ADC sets QoS marking on forward paths through the switch infrastructure and onto video services.
  • ADC calls the controllers and requests to set the priority out of the server at the same level.

In this scenario, the response priority is set at the same level so users receive bi-directional QoS for their videos.


Adoption Levels

While the future of SDN deployment is uncertain, comanies are observing the integration closely. In fact, many businesses are asking why it hasn’t reached peak levels yet. The reality is that SDN is being adopted at significant rates.

Reasons for slow deployment include the fact that use cases are still in progress and are not fully understood yet; many companies are simply unaware of SDN. Further, the adoption of SDN infrastructure requires OpenFlow or other southbound interfaces to switches. With this switch requirement, not all companies are able to deploy SDN across the board. Even with data infrastructure refreshes, centers are only limited to their existing traditional networks.

SDN, when deployed, can correlate with any network so long as the right components are present.

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