In today’s high-bandwidth culture, networks face a very different set of challenges to those of previous decades. The traditional, static network architecture is no longer effective in managing the dynamic computing and storage needs that come with the modern network environment, and outdated methods are being re-examined in light of the new demands of enterprise networks. With the broadening of the internet to all spheres of our lives, and the Internet of Things (IoT) making its presence felt more every day, a centralised, dynamic approach to networking is necessary to handle the new demands of our globalised digital culture. In this article, we’ll take a look at Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and how it aims to cater to the needs of tomorrow’s network environment, particularly with regards to device configuration and management.

What is Software-Defined Networking?

Software-Defined Networking is an emerging architecture that decouples the network control and forwarding functions of a network, allowing networking functions to be directly programmed and the underlying structure to be abstracted for network services and applications. It enables programmers to customise their environments using ordinary software, operating systems and servers. SDN is dynamic, manageable, adaptable and cost-effective, and as a result it is far better suited to today’s data-intensive environments than traditional, static architectures. SDN architecture is centrally managed by software-based controllers that maintain a holistic view of your environment, and appears as a single, logical switch to applications and policy engines. Furthermore, SDN is programmatically configurable, meaning Network Engineers configure, manage, secure and optimise resources quickly through automated SDN programmes that do not depend on proprietary software – saving time and operational costs for device configuration and management.

 Why are we shifting to SDN?

Computing technology has advanced in leaps and bounds over the past few decades, but networking methods have stayed essentially the same. Today, networks are an integral infrastructural component throughout society, particularly with the emergence of private and public cloud services. Traditional networking practices, in context with today’s networking and device configuration demands, are closed, complex and proprietary – making them a barrier to service innovation and, ultimately, the growth of the internet. Because traditional networks are built using switches, routers and ports, they have become increasingly complex in the face of the modern environment – relying on ever-increasing numbers of distributed protocols and making use of closed and proprietary interfaces. As a result, networks that operate according to traditional networking methodologies are difficult to optimise and customise, and may incur significant cost to your organisation.

How does SDN solve traditional device configuration problems?

Software-Defined Networking has a range of benefits for network and cloud environments. Its most significant benefits, though, are to data centre operators, service providers and enterprise network operators. In data centres, SDN is used for virtualisation to unify computing, storage and networking resources to reduce financial and operational costs and adapt to customer requirements. SDN helps service providers simplify management and the control of edge and core networks to reduce expenses and create wide-area networks that interconnect their physical locations for a cloud infrastructure. Enterprise network operators and campuses make use of SDN to provide granular device configuration and management policies more suited to today’s Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) culture, to replace standalone appliances such as intrusion detection systems and firewalls with soft appliances and to optimise VLAN management through more holistic virtualisation solutions.

Where do I find out more?

IRIS Networking Systems is a trusted provider of Networking Solutions, and offers software platforms and device configuration solutions that are extensively customisable to the unique needs of your network. To find out more about the benefit IRIS could provide to your business, please request a free demo of our software today.

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Image credit: SAP