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SDN technologies break into the networking space

Software-defined networking (SDN) is beginning to make its mark in the networking space. Software-defined networks are recognized for their flexibility: By separating the control plane from the data plane, SDN technologies permit administrators to dynamically provision network services and provide a holistic view of activity across the entire enterprise. Despite the advantages that SDN networks appear to offer, many enterprises are still reluctant to buy it, both literally and figuratively, mainly due to cost and unwillingness to learn and implement new software.

In this TechTarget presentation, networking and cloud computing expert Jim Metzler talks to Kara Gattine, executive managing editor of TechTarget's Networking Media Group, about the growth of SDN as well its future direction. In addition, he explains both the security benefits and problems in dealing with SDN technologies and discusses the OpenFlow protocol and the work of the Open Networking Foundation (ONF).

As recently as three  years ago, , Metzler says, more than a third of IT organizations admitted to having no knowledge of SDN technologies, and nearly half had very limited knowledge. Very few vendors had created clear SDN strategies; as a result, the hype cycle had yet to begin its course. In the summer of 2012, however, major players Cisco and VMware made groundbreaking announcements: Cisco rolled out its Open Networking Environment (ONE) initiative and VMware acquired Nicira.

Fast forward to today, and now the industry's attention is on how SDN will be integrated into networking. Metzler poses the question of whether or not SDN will commoditize switches. He says he believes OpenFlow, the protocol that dictates how packets are transmitted, isn't robust or stable enough. As a result, he says, no mass progress will be made -- at least in the short term.

With new SDN technologies come security risks, and Metzler cites a few key concerns, including fears about controller vulnerabilities.

Overall, Metzler believes that very few companies currently want or need SDN networks. Vendors want their products to solve current problems and to add value, and until SDN can prove to do both, it will still be on the back burner. Once its value proposition is solidified—either as a cost-effective alternative to traditional networking or as a tool that can make companies more efficient—SDN's future will be assured.

This presentation was recorded in January 2013.

Watch parts 1 and 3 of the series to learn more about these rapidly growing topics.

    Video series part 1: Network virtualization now, and the overlay network future

    Video series part 3: Could SDN network virtualization change everything

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