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SDN is evolutionary, not revolutionary

Bonnie Gardiner | July 16, 2015
The need to support increasingly complex and virtualised environments with greater agility is driving considerable change in data networking.


The faster technology changes, the more we find ways to utilise it, and it's not slowing down any time soon. Last year, NTT Japan successfully tested a fibre optic cable that pushes 14 trillion bits per second down a single strand of fibre, raising the bar very high in terms of speed and agility.

Older network architectures weren't built to meet the requirements of modern enterprises. There's a need for fresh architecture that can support evolving traffic patterns and key computing trends such as big data, mobility, cloud computing and the consumerisation of IT.

Enter software defined networking (SDN), where data control is 'decoupled' from the physical infrastructure and directly programmable, enabling administrators to support a network fabric across equipment from multiple vendors. This leads to optimal routing and improvements in application performance, which ultimately provides a better experience for users.

Tech for tech's sake?

Some consider SDN to be the next shiny buzzword with no real merit, the benefits are seen as purely conceptual at this stage, while others think it's the final frontier for competitive IT .

"Depending on whom you talk to -- it could solve world hunger or it's a specific niche protocol," said Gartner analyst David Cappuccio at this year's Gartner Infrastructure, Operations & Data Centre Summit in May.

But as organisations plan to roll out new virtualised applications and face repeated disruptive IT trends, they may need to consider how to transition to SDN and the impact it will have on the way they build their networks if they want to remain competitive.

"SDN is not just technology for technology's sake. It's the fact that businesses are being differentiated by their ability to deliver services quickly over congested services," says Peter Carr, analyst and founder of Peter Carr Advisory.

"If you can get a leg up over your competition by using smart technology and embedding that into the architecture of your data centre, do you think your boss is going to be happy with that? I would say so."

It's not just about realising the benefits but also the necessity for investing in technologies that allow the configuration of networks remotely using software, says Carr.

"On the surface, SDN is simply a means of reinvigorating an old, tired network, helping CIOs and network admins to leverage more network channels while optimising the route of data from one point to another," says Carr.

"However, the flow-on effects of a more agile and scalable network include reduced complexity, greater flexibility and faster resource deployment, improving workflow with better availability and reliability of network environments for all devices and uses."

Shifting the perspective


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