By Nikhil Rathi, Founder & CEO, Web Werks
Technological advancements have introduced yet another set of phenomena – Software Defined
Networking (SDN) and Software-Defined Data Centers (SDDC). In 2020, the SDN market was valued at an estimated USD 9.2 billion, predicted to reach USD 35.6 billion by 2026. On the other hand, the SDDC global market was valued at USD 43.7 billion in 2020 and is poised to reach USD 120.3 billion by 2025.
Understanding Software Defined Networking
SDN is a network architecture approach, enabling intelligent and central controlling or programming for the network using software applications. The programming helps operators to manage the network holistically, irrespective of the underlying network technology.
As for the software applications, these are essentially open APIs. The traditionally-closed network platforms get opened up and implemented with a common SDN control layer.
Critical Layers of the SDN infrastructure
The application layer: This ranges from cybersecurity systems detecting intrusions and threats to firewalls and load balancers. There are no specialised apps required. Instead, SDNs use controllers to manage the behaviour of the data plane.
The control layer: This layer marks the SDN brain. It resides on its server, managing policies and data flow traffic across the network.
The infrastructure layer: Consisting of switches that forward the incoming and outgoing network to the targeted destination, this aspect is the physical component of the network. These three layers are interlinked and communicate through northbound and southbound APIs.
Applications speak to the controller through the northbound interface, and the controller and the switches communicate through the southbound interfaces.On the other hand, the roots of Software Defined Data Centers stem from server virtualisation.
However, SDDC takes it a notch up by extending the same from computing to storage to networking resources. SDDC essentially provides a single software toolset to manage the resources.
The Why Factor
Software Defined Networking technology streamlines the way enterprises manage their data flow
within their networks.Some of the notable benefits are:
Helps reduce operation complexity through simplified policy changes
Facilitates third-party configurations
Leverages open APIs, thus expediting the time to market
Enhances network management and visibility
Curbs hardware footprint and cuts costs
As for Software Defined Data Centers, it stands to benefit in the short-run and long-run. Here’s how! The short-term benefit is agility. It reduces the time taken to provision new resources and set up new physical servers. It offers more storage capacity. In the long term, SDDC helps save costs. By pooling resources, infrastructure utilisation gets improved. This aspect also leads to less infrastructure laying idle.
In simple words, below are some of the notable benefits of SDDCs:
Helps save costs
Business agility and flexibility
Ensures optimal resource usage
Making A Difference In Functionality And Operations
SDN technology can come to the rescue of enterprises in the following areas:
Network programmability: With SDN, network behaviour comes under the purview of software that resides beyond those rendering physical connectivity, that is, the networking devices. In this way, network operators can tailor the network behaviours to support new services and even develop differentiated services speedily.
Centralised intelligence and control: SDN gets built on logical network topologies. These enable intelligent control and management of network resources, enabling bandwidth management, restoration, security and policies to be highly intelligent and optimised.
Network abstraction: This factor enables services and applications to interact with the network through APIs instead of management interfaces, thereby getting coupled to the hardware.
Openness: SDN architectures enable multi-vendor interoperability and a vendor-neutral ecosystem. The open APIs support myriad applications, including Cloud orchestration, SaaS, and business-critical networked apps.
As for SDDCs, they revamp business operations through virtualisation through the following aspects.
Computing: The virtual machines (VM), including the operating systems, CPUs, memory and software, reside on Cloud servers. This enables users to create software implementations that can get spun up or down as deemed fit, reducing the provisioning time.
Networking: This is where the network infrastructure that services the VMs can get provisioned without fretting over the underlying hardware. Here, the varied infrastructure aspects – firewalls, telecommunications, administration, routing and others – get configured inside the SDDC on the vendor’s abstract hardware. That is, there is no need for network hardware assembly.
Storage: With an SDDC, disk storage gets provisioned from the storage pool of the SDDC vendor. Users can choose the storage types based on requirements and budgets. Also, they can quickly add storage to VMs as needed.
An additional factor to note is management and automation software. Remote management and automation get delivered through a software platform accessible from any location – APIs or a Web browser. In doing so, SDDC integrates these layers, creates a single, hyper-converged environment, and facilitates the Cloud environment, be it Private, Public or Hybrid. Lastly, users can connect additional critical software to customise the SDDC platform.
Summing It Up
Enabling interoperability and data integration across the enterprise-wide network is vital for seamless
functionality. Providers (ISPs), Carriers, Telcos, Internet Exchanges (IXs), Hyperscale Cloud Service
Providers (CSPs), and Content Delivery Networks (CDNs).