In the world of Cloud Computing, solution vendors are constantly in need of making sure that their customers can move virtualized workloads quickly and efficiently. This means that in the event of an outage, virtualized servers and the applications they support can be moved from one location to another with minimal planning occurring.
At Orion, we believe that this is critical to ensuring our cloud solution can grow with the speed and flexibility that our clients business needs demand. That is why our own cloud solution, OnCloud is built using a SDN approach. Before we dive into the benefits, let’s take a second to understand what exactly we mean by “SDN.” According to TechTarget contributor Margaret Rouse, SDN is a strategy in which a controller software application manages network activity as opposed to the hardware supporting the platform.
11 Benefits of Software Defined Networking
Operating and Hardware Cost Reduction
Overall, SDN is renowned for giving new life to existing network devices, making it easier to commoditize hardware. This means that initial investment is minimal. Many SDN options, including Microsoft’s Hyper-V Network Virtualization ship with the operating system itself, requiring no additional costs. As an additional benefit, SDN supports Layer 1 through Layer 3 networking models. This means that you don’t need to buy expensive networking equipment and hardware to get additional requirements out of a system.
Because network admins no longer have to go from device to device to make changes to a networks configuration, they can make necessary changes much more efficiently. Not only are network configurations able to be controlled efficiently through the centralized control, many configurations can be automated.
Holistic, Centralized Network Management
One of the biggest benefits of the SDN approach is that all networking components can be controlled through a singular device. Both physical and virtual devices are controlled through a single API, making the life of network administrators everywhere much easier.
Enable “Network Experimentation Without Network Impact”
The flexibility that SDN brings to networking allows for admins to “leap over” the limits imposed by SNMP and experiment with network configurations without being hamstrung by their consequences.
More Detailed, Granular Security
Virtualization, Cloud Computing, and Mobile Devices have brought significant challenges to information security. The SDN controller provides a single point of control where information security policies and regulations can be distributed throughout the organization. Additionally, the SDN controller provides an additional point where security policies can be placed to address specific software and application vulnerabilities.
Improved Ability to Respond to Cyber Threats
SDN helps IT personnel respond to security incidents by giving them real-time visibility into network activity. You can also program the network to respond to certain types of incidents automatically, alleviating the human reliance. For example, let’s say that there is a laptop detected that is sending malware or attacking another system. SDN allows you to program the network to selectively block specific traffic based on attributes such as device address or application.
Increased Visibility into the Network
Overall increased visibility into an organization’s network is one of the biggest benefits of Software Defined Networking. For one, the centralized control provides a single location from which security, performance, and challenges can be identified. All of these can be analyzed without interfering with network activities. By finding out where the bandwidth or security challenges are originating, outages and downtime can be prevented before disrupting operations.
Additionally, the flexibility of this centralization allows for more options to be incorporated, as SDN lets programmers write a common interface and manage multiple devices without learning the intricate features of every device on the network.
More Efficient Network Planning
Like we mentioned above, increased visibility into network, computing, and storage resources means resellers can also plan IT strategies more efficiently due having more relevant data on which to base investment decisions. Additionally, increased insight into issues occurring within the network allow for maintenance and management activities to be scheduled ahead of time to ensure minimal if any disruptions to service will occur.
More Efficient use of Network Resources
In conventional networks, the network control plane, which determines how data travels, along with the data plane, which transmits the data, were located in hardware. In an SDN infrastructure, the control plane is a software function that operates independently of network hardware. This logical separation of the network and data control planes enables SDN to support advanced applications and services, including big data analytics, while keeping pace with ever-increasing network service demands.
Improved Uptime and Reliability
The flexibility and redundancies that are built in to SDN programs allow for human errors that could occur during deployment activities to be eliminated. Additionally, SDN supports virtualization of most physical and virtual network devices allowing you to perform an upgrade or replacement on one component of your network without taking the whole system offline. In the event of downtime, SDN supports snapshotting the configuration which allows you to recover from outages caused by upgrades very quickly.
The future of networking will rely increasingly on software, and SDN has taken a great step in answering many of the challenges that traditional networking approaches held. IT takes networking operations to the modern area by allowing increased visibility and security, while also streamlining and automating operations.