Software-defined networking is leading to major changes in every part of the network. Using a centralized, highly programmable model that separates the control and data planes from the underlying infrastructure, SDN allows for more granular and automated network management. However, the transition to this type of network can be daunting. From understanding the effects on network staff to operational requirements to vendor selection, the move to SDN takes time and preparation. In this guide, SDN expert Ethan Banks breaks down the transition, detailing how to approach SDN vendors, evaluate SDN platforms and understand the core concepts of software-defined networking.
Network innovation leads to SDN basics
After years of stagnation, network design is finally evolving to meet the demands of cloud computing and virtualization. As vendors seek to give networks the flexibility and ease-of-use they need, they have introduced two main concepts -- centralized control and programmability -- which have become the hallmarks of SDN. Learn more about how these fundamental technologies can solve business problems for networking pros whose virtualized infrastructures and cloud strategies continue to develop.
What's necessary in a software-defined network?
Enterprise network engineers with highly virtualized data centers have begun to face the same application deployment challenges that cloud providers do: the need for more automation, rapid deployment and more granular configurations. Orchestration tools offer a solution, but while full SDN orchestration software hasn't become commercially available yet, network vendors are partnering with other types of IT vendors to produce controllers that meet some of these challenges. With network orchestration, as well as centralized control and programmability, the goal is to eventually create an environment that supports network virtualization.
The goal of SDN is dynamic networks, so it's crucial to understand the concepts of network orchestration and virtualization -- the keys to flexibility. Continue Reading
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What to consider before selecting an SDN platform
Before committing to a specific SDN platform, it's essential to understand your operational needs thoroughly so that you can communicate them to vendors. That means rallying behind lead engineers who know the IT operations in and out. Once you determine what your organization hopes to gain from SDN, a vendor will be forced to respond with products that address your specific needs.
Before investing in an SDN platform, network pros must first examine their overall IT operational needs. Continue Reading
Quiz your SDN vendor before committing
Picking an SDN product suite is a challenging task for many networking professionals, so buyers need to assess what each SDN vendor offers. But what should you ask? Find out with this list of 14 questions to pose to prospective SDN vendors and learn how the answer to each of these questions should influence your buying decision.
Who's who in the world of SDN
From SDN startups to entrenched networking giants, vendors are offering a wide array of SDN products. And in such a nascent market, it's hard to track how many SDN vendors are out there. Once you've determined your operational needs, take a look at this list of 42 vendors that offer some form of an SDN platform.
Don't dismiss startups when considering an SDN platform
Like any new market, software-defined networking has been infiltrated by a number of startup companies that have promising technology. Although there may be comfort in selecting a well-known vendor, it's harder for these incumbents to innovate because they are often weighed down by corporate bureaucracy. Startups that specialize in SDN have the freedom to think about networking in unusual ways, leading to new and different products.
When evaluating SDN technology, consider buying from SDN startups, which may be more nimble and innovative than traditional hardware vendors. Continue Reading
How will SDN affect your networking staff?
SDN will change the role of many network professionals, especially those engineers who haven't delved much into newer technologies. But even for cloud- and virtualization-savvy networking pros, SDN still won't seem simple; it puts a complex layer of abstraction on top of a complex network in hopes of creating a simpler interface. Any organization looking seriously at SDN will need to carefully think about how it will affect networking staff and IT operations.
Programmable networks will bring automation and change the role of the networking pro, so it's important to consider the SDN impact on IT employees. Continue Reading