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5 steps to launching Software Defined Networking

Greg Stemberger, Principal Solutions Architect, Force 3 | April 11, 2016
SDN is a powerful technology with a wealth of benefits, but it must be properly implemented to get the results you want.

This small-scale SDN implementation lets you safely test your use case without subjecting the rest of your team and infrastructure to undue risk. It’s a sandbox—have fun in it!

* Review your test case.  After working with SDN for a while, you should have enough data to measure your outcomes against your original goals. While this sounds like a given, many organizations take this type of review for granted.

Without thoroughly reviewing SDN’s effectiveness, you can’t answer three important questions: Did it solve your current problem? Is it a wise investment to expand SDN throughout the network? Do you have the infrastructure (both personnel and technical) to maintain software defined networking across the organization?

With performance, efficiency, security and budget all at stake, it’s important to understand SDN’s results before staking your organization’s IT future on it.

* Gain maturity before expanding deployment.  Even if your SDN test case performs beyond expectations, there’s one final step before expanding it across your network. Slowly increase your project’s footprint and gain maturity before fully expanding deployment.

This might seem overly cautious, but there’s a good reason. Even if SDN worked on a limited scope and in a seldom-used portion of the network, the rest of your network and organization might not be ready.

Are you able to set up the cross-functional teams needed for large-scale success? How will SDN affect performance among more-trafficked areas of the network? Are there other basic challenges that software-defined networking might solve?

Sometimes answering these questions leads you back to step one—and that’s OK.

SDN is a powerful technology with a wealth of benefits, but it must be properly implemented to get the results you want. Otherwise you not only risk your network’s security and performance, but also the ability to implement the technology at all. Reap the rewards by doing it right the first time.

 

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