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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.

SDN can change the way we look at projects, shifting from a technology point of view to a workflow point of view.

"The most difficult part of IT infrastructures to manage or change is the network, with probably the most highly paid people in the data centre doing so. When you need better data centre performance, they have optimised it at a device-by-device level, and that's very expensive, very time consuming and not very adaptive," said Cappuccio.

"What if we created an environment we managed with software instead? Then we can manage it based on a common set of principles... suddenly the environment seems a lot more flexible, potentially a lot more scalable and a lot more adaptive."

Up until now, organisations haven't had to worry about optimising data routes because traffic hasn't particularly been a problem, but with all the changes in high speed networks, digital disruption, and mobile applications, the roads are getting choked.

"Every organisation has a limited amount of transport capacity on their networks, whether they're on the public Internet or whether they have their own private networks. So the dark fibre is just like a road and like the roads, they're all getting very congested," says Carr.

SDN could therefore be useful for organisations whose networks have lots of branches and that deal with various geographies. Carr says for a remote country like Australia in particular, SDN presents great opportunities to optimise network reach.

When it comes to determining the need for SDN, Carr says it depends on what your organisation wants to optimise for (eg. scale, cost, quality) and what the data centre is there to service.

"If you're in a retail business or a consumer business, this has to be a part of your architectural consideration and if it's not then you're missing out on a core piece.

"And if you have an organisation with a big application development environment and you need to optimise for scale and quality, again it's a really critical place and it's not going to go away."

Nathan McGregor, managing director of Juniper Networks for Australia and New Zealand, says a key issue for enterprises is the need to scale up services after transitioning to the cloud, with legacy systems and applications that weren't written with the cloud in mind.

"Having to manage those applications within the cloud and virtual infrastructures is quite a different task to what was traditionally done in data centre infrastructure," says McGregor.

"Companies need maximum flexibility with networking and how they program to it, both physical and virtual, and this is where we're seeing customers apply their own program codes like Python, with software partners such as Puppet and Chef and similar functionalities to really customise that network for maximum flexibility."


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