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Digital Spotlight: SDN -- a disruption waiting to happen

Sathya Mithra Ashok | June 4, 2014
Disruptive technologies do just what their name implies. They shake up existing markets and values and replace it with new markets. Such disruption can be painful, wrenching and traumatic, even though they play out over decades and, more often, come out for the better at the other end.

Disruptive technologies do just what their name implies. They shake up existing markets and values and replace it with new markets. Such disruption can be painful, wrenching and traumatic, even though they play out over decades and, more often, come out for the better at the other end.

SDN, which traces its origins to work done at UC Berkeley and Stanford University, currently looks eerily like cloud technologies did in the early stages, in that it has multiple definitions and people working on it from different angles creating user confusion.

"The premise of SDN is that the control plane is separated from the data plane and provides for a management interface that can be used to orchestrate and automate the deployment of applications, services and their related network infrastructure requirements," says Arron Patterson, CTO at EMC NZ.

"SDN will ensure that new services can be brought on line quicker and will be able to adapt more readily to meet the changing demands of data centre environments," says Scott Penno, APAC regional marketing manager for Christchurch-based Allied Telesis.

"The SDN proposition leads to enhanced speed to serve capabilities. Having the ability to software-define a configuration end-to-end and have that configuration be applied through soft patch type capabilities in data centres means you can start to spool up networks like you would a new server.

"In terms of the WAN environments, having the capability to assign rules to the types of traffic that are moving through the network provides for fast optimisation of traffic profile flows," says Steve Lloyd, Gen-I's head of network solutions.

"In addition, third party support capabilities like F5 or Riverbed and network security boxes can now be applied as an API software device, removing the need for hard boxes in the network. This supports the application of a rules-based environment managing the types of traffic profiles to achieve the best network performance," he adds.

"Software-defined networking as a concept can be confusing for clients, with hundreds of definitions [that are] often contradictory. So we have distilled it down to two core concepts: One, SDN enables the move of some networking functions to the software domain, and two, providing a programmatic interface that allows the network to become a programmable entity," says Richard Fitch, network integration and performance optimisation solutions specialist at Dimension Data NZ.

The state of the user

Early stages of any disruptive technology can be difficult for end-users, whether large or small. The decision maker often has to struggle with conflicting information and continue to consider whether it is the right time to take the leap or not.

With SDN, vendors state that there might be some pre-requisites that need to exist before the end-user need consider it seriously.

 

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