Can you use network fabric with SDN technologies?
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive emails regarding relevant topic offers from TechTarget and its partners. You can withdraw your consent at any time. Contact TechTarget at 275 Grove Street, Newton, MA.
The short answer is yes -- networks can use both a network fabric and software-defined network (SDN) protocols. The question becomes how tightly integrated SDN technologies and network fabrics will be in the future. In one camp (which includes VMware and OpenFlow), the SDN architecture operates independently of the network switching fabric. SDN software and network fabric hardware are purchased from separate vendors, and SDN software abstracts and controls the physical Ethernet fabric.
At the other end of the spectrum, SDN technologies are integrated with the physical network fabric. Suppliers offering this model include Cisco, Juniper with QFabric and SDN startups like Plexxi with its optical interconnect. Integrated SDN protocols make the network fabric more application-aware and facilitate Quality of Service for specific applications.
In fact, many vendors are architecting their next-generation network products for the data center around both high-performance network fabrics and their SDN architectures. For example,
- Cisco offers both its Unified Fabric and Open Network Environment (ONE) SDN architecture.
- Juniper offers its Q-Fabric switch and JUNOS software.
- Brocade has its VCS fabric and its SDN technologies (e.g., OpenFlow and Vyatta software-router).
- HP offers its Fabric Switch, SDN controller and Virtual Application Networks software.
- Avaya has its VENA switch and Application Driven Networking (its SDN architecture).
For most data center network applications the underlying physical network, working in conjunction with SDN protocols, will be critical to deliver a highly scalable, high-performance, low-latency network.
Related Q&A from Lee Doyle
SDN is making its way to the edge of the wide area network. But just what is SD-WAN, and who should consider it? Networking expert Lee Doyle explains.continue reading
When it comes to widespread SDN deployments in the enterprise, are we there yet? Networking expert Lee Doyle says not quite… but we're on the way.continue reading
Networking expert Lee Doyle explains network functions virtualization and the status of NFV deployment in 2015.continue reading
Have a question for an expert?
Please add a title for your question
Get answers from a TechTarget expert on whatever's puzzling you.