Updated: Jan 20, 2020
Software-Defined Networking (SDN) is increasingly being adopted by large companies to more efficiently scale up their networks and data centers. With its rising popularity as a network option, SDN offers numerous advantages. But what exactly is SDN, and how might it benefit your company?
What is SDN?
Whereas a traditional network utilizes physical switches and routers, SDN uses a software-based approach that virtualizes a network. Through this virtualization, a network manager uses software rather than physical infrastructure to adjust and manage their network. SDN separates a network’s control and forwarding planes, allowing a control plane to control multiple devices. This separation allows for more centralized control and automation of network resources, thus promoting faster deployment of software and applications. Through SDN, a network’s policy becomes directly programmable, allowing companies to more easily design, manage, and scale their networks.
By making the network centrally managed through SDN controllers that provide a comprehensive view of a company network, network managers can develop their own automated SDN programs specific to their network needs and resources. As companies grow and adjust their goals, SDN provides a network infrastructure that is more readily responsive to changing organizational needs through easier provisioning and management of network resources. For example, if a network has increased traffic, SDN can help make adjustments to bandwidth and processing to keep the network running smoothly.
Why You Should Use SDN
There are numerous advantages to using SDN in your company. A few of the more prevalent and important advantages are discussed below.
Easier scalability: SDN makes the process of scaling up a network more efficient. Traditional networks require manual set up and configuration; however, because it is a virtualized network, SDN provides a more dynamic approach that allows a company to quickly adjust network infrastructure and resources to immediately respond to changes in company needs.
Increased security: SDN provides greater network security. Given the centralized nature of SDN, one controller can manage the security protocols for an entire network rather than having to individually safeguard multiple points of potential security breaches. Furthermore, SDN allows different segments of the network to have different security settings. This means more sensitive data can be better protected while still providing easy access for network components that do not require tighter security measures. Rather than relying on humans to manage security threats, SDN also allows an IT department to program the network to immediately identify and respond to security threats.
Better flexibility: SDN enables a company to become more responsive to changing network needs and addressing issues that arise through the deployment of new applications. This provides a degree of flexibility that is difficult to achieve in more traditional networks.
Greater adaptability to the cloud: SDN can play a key role as companies transition to a cloud-based environment. As more and more companies switch to a hybrid cloud model, SDN can help manage a company’s network needs and changes across both private and public cloud environments. This will offer greater network agility and easier network management.
Improved cost-effectiveness: Because it provides more centralized management of a network with less required physical hardware, SDN can be a more cost-effective network solution for some companies. By using software to manage a network, companies do not need to invest as much into physical routers, switches, and other infrastructure hardware.
Making the switch
If the advantages discussed above seem like areas in which your company would benefit, you might make the switch to SDN. When thinking about changing to SDN, consider making a gradual transition and operating under a hybrid network model as you purchase and implement the new SDN equipment. This will allow you to familiarize yourself with the different elements of SDN without fully disrupting your current operations. As your company becomes more familiar with SDN, you will undoubtedly begin to recognize the various benefits SDN provides for your network functionality and security.