Are you ready for Software Defined Networking?

Software Defined Networking shows increased uptake in the Middle East

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Are you ready for Software Defined Networking? Samer Ismair from Brocade says that SDN will become a critical component of future networks.
By  Georgina Enzer Published  July 31, 2013

As enterprises look to build the networks of the future, software defined networking (SDN) will become a critical component in those networks, according to Samer Ismair, systems engineer MENA at network expert Brocade.

SDN creates a platform that can be uniquely and dynamically customised based on a customer’s specific needs and allows them to programmatically control the network without sacrificing performance, scalability or reliability.

“Traditional networks and data centres are being stretched to their limits as they were never designed for today’s astronomical growth in bandwidth-intensive applications, and the growing demand for speed, scalability, and resilience,” said Joe Skorupa, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.

In most cases, all networking intelligence is distributed across physical switches and routers using standardised protocols. Configuration of networking equipment is primarily performed on each switch independently. The result is a complex network architecture.

“To enforce a change, network operators will have to go down to the individual switch or router and re-configure the routing protocol; a time consuming task especially in large networks and data centres. To use an analogy, it is akin to writing a book using a chisel on stone slabs. If you make a mistake, you must pick up your chisel and re-write the content on another slab, making it a very tedious task,” said Ismair.

Early adopters of SDN are currently investigating a wide range of applications and use cases. These include network virtualisation, large-scale data centre infrastructure management, traffic engineering, and WAN flow management.

Although the concept of SDN emerged a few years ago in response to the challenges of the rigidity of physical networks and manual operations, its adoption remains gradual.

“I do not think that SDN is just going to be a ‘nice to have’ technology, but I think it is going to take time for that architecture to evolve over the next five to 10 years. Some people are pursuing SDN much more quickly and I think we will see it in different pockets of the network. I think it will take off in the areas of WAN, campus, data centre and then organically grow into the other areas,” states Michael Koons, vice president at Cisco Systems.

By having access to network topology information, applications can optimise decisions related to service fulfillment, service placement, and service removal. With SDN, regional experts agree that operations become simpler, less costly, and IT gains the agility to rapidly deploy, move, and scale applications and data.

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