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Addressing WAN edge networking complexity with SDN and NFV

Dave Corley | April 8, 2014
As enterprises add mobile users, virtualized services, and public and private clouds, they're running into constraints that threaten to limit their ability to scale their network infrastructure appropriately. Contrary to what many assume, the constraints are not so much bandwidth and cost, the real culprit is complexity.

The prevailing sentiment is to first deploy SDN and NFV in the data center. However, the combination of SDN and NFV also allows initial deployment in the branch office where the routing service can just be a software component on general purpose servers.

Allowing enterprises and MSPs to deploy to new branch offices rapidly and harness existing SDN management software to gain network visibility has enormous benefits. It allows the network engineers to get familiar with the technology in a less risky environment than deploying it directly in the core of a highly complex data center. This is much the same way enterprises started their initial VoIP deployments in the branch office before bringing it into the core. It also allows resource constrained branches to continue to use the same servers to be multi-purpose machines and avoid introducing costly dedicated switches to be separately managed and maintained.

As SDN and NFV proliferate, the static, complex configuring and reconfiguring of the network should become more virtual and automated, allowing network administrators to focus more of their time and resources on network architecture issues and service deployment rather than the painstaking configuration of distributed static boxes via an arcane CLI. This will allow networks to scale more rapidly and cost effectively, addressing the barriers the static network has created to growth. SDN management solutions will also provide more visibility for network configuration, monitoring and control. It will take time of course, as vendor products and standards mature and develop. But judging from the carriers and the enterprises, SDN and NFVs time has come.


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