The evolving landscape of SDN

Software defined networking is gaining attention from regional organisations, but companies need to be aware of the capabilities it offers and how best to access them.

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The evolving landscape of SDN Zaidi: SDN can overcome the challenges facing traditional networks and deliver added capabilities.
By Staff Writer Published  January 21, 2014

Software-defined technology as a concept is quickly gaining momentum within the region in the field of network architecture. The worldwide software-defined networking (SDN) market for the enterprise and cloud service provider segments is forecast to grow from a mere $360 million in 2013 to a whopping $3.7 billion by 2016. While there is a growing understanding of SDN among IT organisations in the region, there is still more education necessary before the full benefits of the technology can be realised, according to Asfar Zaidi, Principal Consultant from Huawei Enterprise.

The rapid evolution of internet services and other technologies is creating three critical problems for the traditional networking deployments, Zaidi said. The lack of user experience guarantees, including a lack of quality control over bandwidth service, impacts on the user experience and damages customer relationships.

Inefficient service deployment is also a challenge whereas the static nature of traditional networks, with separate services and networks, has meant that the network is inefficient in responding to dynamic services that require timely adjustments. Thirdly is the slow adaptation to new services, as traditional networks can be very slow to upgrade features, adjust architectures, or introduce new devices to meet changing business requirements—hampered by the fact that physical devices cannot adjust easily or quickly enough.

“In this environment, companies like Huawei have seen that Software-Defined Networking (SDN) can be used as an effective approach to addressing users’ issues by connecting isolated services with the network, as well as ironing out speed and efficiency concerns by enabling the network to automatically adapt to the service changes and requirements,” Zaidi said.

Zaidi highlights that SDN delivers several key benefits that are intended to overcome the challenges facing traditional networks. The openness of SDN allows an increasing number of networks and services to connect, enabling new and faster ways to collaborate within the network. To improve service-quality detection and troubleshooting in connectionless transmissions, new technologies will be introduced to allow the network to identify the services it transmits and automatically make adjustments for quality requirements.

In terms of centralised control, more and more functions will be controlled in a centralized manner as the SDN architecture removes the control functions from the IP network devices onto a separate server called the controller. Through global centralized controls, IT managers have complete visibility of the network all on one dashboard, resolving typical problems quickly from network traffic to scheduling.

SDN-enabled networks also allow the virtual platforms to provide flexible device capabilities, facilitating new service deployment and management.

In terms of the commercial and economic benefits, Zaidi said that the objective of SDN remains simple — to help enterprises address problems in the existing network architecture and to ultimately add value to business operations. This can be seen in several practical applications:

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