The CIO of Today Is in Charge of Transformation

CIOIt is the job of most CIOs today to make improvements toward virtualizing their data centers. The majority of CIOs are looking closer at deploying more cloud-based solutions, including those that will help protect their data, keeping it safe from cyberattacks.

IT Infrastructure
Of the many tasks at hand that are intended to help make an organization competitive and profitable, making sure your network is able to protect IT infrastructure is key. It is also critical to increase the ability of your infrastructure to function on a mobile level as the Internet of Things (IoT) becomes an increasingly all-encompassing movement.

In many cases, the way networks are being examined in the corporate environment is evolving from being manual and labor intensive to functioning with more automation and consideration of the future needs of the organization. The network has to be able to keep up with the speed at which the IoT runs. An intent-based system with automation is the direction CIOs are progressively moving towards.

The problem that the average CIO has is that most networks are only made to automate what is known rather than adapt to all the unknowns that can occur on an average day (large companies will average 300-plus cybersecurity issues per week). The goal of software-defined networking (SDN) is to solve this issue, yet according to an analyst at TechTarget, less than 10 percent of enterprises have deployed such solutions.

The Future of SDN
Part of the initial problem with SDN for some CIOs involved the stumbles in the very beginning of its deployment, which led to skepticism among leaders. However, with its growing pains behind it, the benefits and value provided by implementing SDN will be a key factor for many companies in the years to come. Most networks moving forward will have the benefit of deploying security processes through a commodity processor or x86 server instead of acquiring, deploying, and managing numerous physical appliances.

At Focal Solutions, we make telecom easy with a team that is committed to the success of our clients. From cloud-based solutions to hybrid solutions and data recovery processes, we’ve got you covered. Give us a call today to talk more about your data center needs.


Why SDN Needs to Emphasize Network Security More

Network SecurityThe next generation of networking includes software defined networking (SDN), as network controls shift from hardware to software. It’s the result of merging multiple devices into one controller, which empowers the user to control an entire network. It’s a giant leap in the evolution of administrative control, but developers must still face network security challenges for this new technology.

Control Plane Concerns

The main concern that users should have about SDN at this stage is that the control plane can be compromised. A separate issue involves the scalability of the control plane. If a hacker is able to gain access to the control plane, they can potentially control the entire network. Another part of the risk involves how easy it is to misconfigure architecture due to the flexible nature of the software.

SDN as a Networking Solution

Despite the network security issues, SDN is quickly becoming a solution for overcoming modern networking problems. One of the reasons for this trend is that it allows for maintenance dry-out. It also answers several other technical issues. The network is set up to respond to its own threats. The problem is that new product developers are not spending enough time working out security issues.

More Than a Buzz Word

SDN is still not clearly defined, which adds to the uncertainty surrounding network security. Many people have used SDN as a buzz word, as different companies such as Cisco have their own definition of it. Various vendors are defining it based on how it fits their existing product lines. Even though SDN is supposed to make a network more consistent, its ambiguity creates confusion.

SDN is not really a new development, but it has the feel of new technology since all the bugs have yet to be worked out. Developers also need to work on making the technology more stable. What’s more, there aren’t many SDN specialists yet, as networking or data center teams have been left in charge of it.

Industry leaders warn that teams using SDN must be careful about hardware rules concerning switches. They also point to multiple layers of security as the safest solution, whether the business uses SDN or not. One of the major benefits of SDN technology is that it allows for fast reconfiguration.


Businesses that have quickly adopted SDN to resolve networking solutions need to consider that this technology still has network security issues. SDN will become more efficient once more focus is put into making the solution more secure. It is becoming widely used due to the simplicity of consolidating all controls into one controller.

SD-WAN: Combining Intuitive Connectivity, Monitoring, and Provision for Superior Network Performance

SD-WANCompanies today must be able to transact business securely in order to stay ahead of competitors and build a reputation for excellence, and business architectures are changing to meet these new demands. Wide area networks (WAN) offer the ability to connect branch offices and data centers across large geographical areas. When combined with software-defined networking (SDN) technologies which are delivered through the cloud, a software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) delivers effective tools that enterprises can safely deploy to retain and expand their profitability.

Virtual private networks (VPN) that are contained in a cloud environment offer cost reductions, improved network management, and an effective user experience for employees and customers alike. This same technology applies to broadband internet connections, increasing their security. Instead of purchasing capital intensive WAN technologies like multiprotocol label switching (MPLS), the migration to SD-WAN provides layer-2 and layer-3 switching possibilities through VPN, optimization, network as a service (NaaS), and application policy and delivery controls.


How It Works

SD-WAN technology uses secure broadband connections to replace more expensive legacy technologies. Routing hardware is exchanged using specific provisioning and connectivity through cloud software, which enables companies to scale up during times of peak demand. Security is assured through VPN, and businesses can deploy additional optimization through application policy and provision controls.

For enterprises that now rely on some type of public, private, or hybrid cloud model (that included on-premises servers), SD-WAN delivers effective methods for managing and optimizing the mix of MLPS, Ethernet, cable, and DSL that originates from a variety of local access providers.


Business Benefits

Because of its cost to benefit ratio, SD-WAN use is expected to rise rapidly over the next few years. By automating the configuration of edge routers and channeling traffic to less expensive broadband use, businesses like retailers, restaurant chains, and bank franchises find easier ways to manage hundreds of small sites and create cost-effective bandwidth to access cloud storage and applications, all while ensuring security and performance. Network performance results include:

  • Lower Cost—By employing more broadband and fewer private links, the endpoint monitoring automatically provisions packet deliveries using the most efficient configuration for the least cost.
  • Decreased Complexity—Routing protocols choose the best method and stick with it, and they won’t react to packet loss or congested links without external manipulation. SD-WAN dynamically routes traffic according to immediate network conditions. It’s still complex, but there’s less work required to maintain optimum performance.
  • Increased Flexibility—This technology allows businesses to utilize the most cost-effective form of path calculation. Mission critical or SLA-bound applications are routed through the virtual MPLS, which also manages bandwidth consumption, while other apps, backup WAN, and traffic without asymmetric routing can be transmitted through less expensive public cloud.

SD-WAN services better align enterprise networks for optimum performance. By delivering secure, business class connections using cloud-based WAN in a software-defined environment, companies receive better performance, security, and provisioning without the high costs of legacy hardware.

Embracing SDN: Understanding the Advantages and Challenges of New Network Technology

Software defined networking (SDN) is transforming business infrastructure models. The ability to support multiple technologies through redefined network architecture offers businesses superior networking capacities at a significantly lower cost than traditional hardware-based models. The results provide companies with real answers for improving network security, scalability, and performance, regardless of size.

However, this new method of increasing network efficiency also presents new challenges for network managers concerning those very same areas.

SDN offers businesses practical opportunities for responding to the emerging demand for personal IT services, while simultaneously providing realistic support and responsiveness for user needs. Yet deploying this flexible, more modern network architecture without compromising the reliability of legacy network performance requires a new approach to ensure that the exchange of digital information is more efficient than ever.

Growth Trends

The modern data center, with virtualized servers and advanced storage capabilities, has outlined SDN parameters. Open standards allow SDN-enabled hardware control policies to be individualized, and a centrally managed, programmable network allows for maximum business efficiency. Market analyst IHS, Inc. reports that SDN revenues grew over 80% in 2015, and experts predict that that trend will continue.

These revenues indicate that within the next few years, more and more enterprise networks will become virtualized, eventually generating a completely new environment for network managers. Data centers based on software constructs will necessitate skills in storage, server, and virtual infrastructure.


Adapting to new technology can be a challenge, especially when dealing with a highly dynamic, increasingly distributed infrastructure. Network managers can address those difficulties by examining the issues and developing actionable solutions.

  • Security—Coding is an essential aspect of SDN, but it also presents one of the biggest challenges for network managers. New network applications can unwittingly introduce security threats that extend throughout the network, from either a centralized or partially distributed controller.
  • Scalability—Bottlenecks can still happen with software constructs, particularly with certain high-use controllers. Managers can overcome the difficulty by splitting control planes, but it requires a keen awareness of potential convergence and configuration requirements.
  • Performance—Maintaining controller response times and preventing latency can be difficult when transitioning legacy data environments to SDN. Network managers must develop their skills for managing and generating virtual functions and services, but also learn specific programming for building platforms and automation in a policy-based architecture.

SDN is delivering actionable opportunities for businesses that need to increase the agility and flexibility of their networks to meet the demands of today’s dynamic marketplace. However, the changes will redefine network management responsibilities, so companies need to be prepared.

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.