SDN architecture, contributes to Open Networking, by allowing the separation of control and forwarding functions, allowing control of the network (control plane) to become directly and fully programmable, as well as the ICT infrastructure such as network hardware and operating system to be separated from applications and network services.
The Need for a New Network Architecture
The global explosion of mobile devices and content, server virtualization, as well as the accelerated arrival of cloud services, are just some of the trends that are irresistibly directing the ICT networking industry to rethink the concept of traditional network architecture. Many conventional networks are hierarchical, projected at the levels of Ethernet switches arranged in a tree structure. This design made sense at a time when client-server computing was dominant, but this static architecture became unsuitable for dynamic edge cloud computing and storage needs of today’s enterprise data centers, for campuses and telco environments.
Changes in Network Traffic Patterns
In enterprise data centers, network traffic patterns have changed drastically. In contrast to client-server applications where communication takes place mainly between one client and one server, today’s applications access different databases and servers, thus creating a whirlwind of “east-west” M2M network traffic, before delivering data to the end user’s device in the classic “north-south”pattern of network traffic.
At the same time, users are changing patterns of network traffic, seeking access to corporate content and applications, from a variety of devices (including personal mobile devices), connecting from a variety of locations and at all times.
Finally, many enterprise data center managers consider the usefulness of the applied model, which can include a private cloud, a public cloud, or a combination of both – resulting in additional network traffic.
Key areas in which SDN technology can make a significant difference for a company are:
Network Programmability: SDN allows network operation to be controlled by software installed outside of network devices that provide connectivity. As a result, network operators can tailor the operation of their networks to support new professional services. By separating hardware from software, operators can introduce innovative services very quickly and dynamically – free from the constraints of closed proprietary software-hardware platforms and ASIC embedded capabilities within this hardware.
Logically centralized intelligence and control: SDN is built on logically centralized network topologies, which enable intelligent control and advanced management of network resources. Traditional network control methods are distributed. The devices operate with limited network state awareness. With the centralized control provided by an SDN-based network, bandwidth management, security, network renewal, security, and security policies can be highly intelligent and optimized – allowing the organization implementing the SDN to create a holistic approach to the network infrastructure, and to achieve cloud-like speeds.
Network Abstraction: Professional services and applications running on SDN technology are separated from the basic infrastructure, software and hardware that provides connectivity. Applications will communicate with the network via the API, instead of a management interface paired firmly with the hardware.
Openness: SDN architectures are optimized for a new era of openness – enabling the interoperability of multiple different vendors and natively fostering vendor-neutral ecosystems. Openness comes from the original SDN approach. The open API supports a wide range of applications, including cloud orchestration, OSS / BSS, SaaS, and business-critical networked applications. Additionally, intelligent software is able to control hardware from multiple vendors with open programmable interfaces like OpenFlow.
A key advantage of SDN technology is the ability for network operators to write programs themselves using the SDN API and thus creating the ability for applications to perform specific telemetry or fine-grained control over network operation.
SDN enables users to develop network-aware applications, to intelligently monitor network operating conditions, and to automatically adjust network configuration to meet growing needs.
Architecture of the Solution
SDN paired with NFV is a key technology to meet these new and growing needs. The SDN is only one part of the whole picture. Network Virtualization (NV), Software-Defined Network (SDN), Network Function Virtualization (NFV), as well as bare-metal switch devices together allow network operators a whole new way to design, develop and maintain a network and its services.
SDN separates the control and forwarding plane and provides centralized access to the distributed network for even more efficient orchestration and automation of network services.
NFV focuses on optimizing network services. NFV separates network functions such as DNS, caching, firewalls, routing, load balancing, from proprietary hardware devices.
NV ensures that the network can integrate and support the requirements of virtualized architectures, especially those with multi-tenancy needs.
Bare-metal devices such as whit box switches and routers are based on generic merchant silicon network chipsets, available to everyone, as opposed to proprietary silicon chips designed for just one network vendor. This means that specific software and network protocols can be implemented and customized through the SDN, without the need for “vendor lock-in” cooperation with only one vendor and the feature/functionality limitations imposed by their hardware.
Why SDN is important for today's network environment
By disaggregating from hardware and all the limitations that a hardware-connected network once had, SDN, NFV, and NV technologies create networks that enable innovation, offer new services, and all while delivering scalability and flexibility.
Network functions can be performed on, not so expensive off-the-shelf hardware, which greatly reduces capex costs. Companies can reduce OPEX costs on IT services by supporting automation and algorithmic control with the ability to increase the programmability of network elements to more easily design, develop, administer, and customize networks to their current needs.
Distribution and professional support
Upstream ICT Alliance, in cooperation with the globally leading Open Network OS vendors, distributes SDN solutions in the region of Central and Eastern Europe. We are a distributor of leading open networking software platforms for modern data centers. With trained system integrators to implement these solutions for Telco and Enterprise rapid environments, you can rely on us to support you in planning, designing and implementing an Open Networking solution.