How to Deploy A Software Defined Network

Software Defined Network (SDN) was a bit of a buzzword throughout the early to middle of this decade. The potential of optimal network utilization promised by software-defined networking captured the interest and imagination of information technology companies quickly. However, progress was slow, because the general understanding of software-defined networking wasn’t up to the mark, which caused enterprises to make wrong choices and unsustainable strategic decisions upfront.


Where Does SDN Come Into the Picture?

SDN is still a nascent concept for several companies. The virtualization potential for networks offered by SDN calls out IT leaders to improve their understanding of this software heavy approach of network resource management. We hope this guide helps.

What is Software Defined Networking Afterall?

You would know and appreciate how software managed virtual servers and storage make computing resource management more agile and dynamic for enterprises. Imagine the benefits that enterprises could enjoy if the same capabilities could be extended on to your company’s network hardware. That’s what software-defined networking offers.

SDN vs Traditional Networking
SDN vs Traditional Networking

SDN is about adding a complex software layer on top of the hardware layer in your company’s network infrastructure. This allows network administrators to route network traffic as per sophisticated business rules. These rules can then be extended across to network routers so that administrators don’t have to depend solely on hardware configuration to manage network traffic.

This sounds easy in principle. Ask any network administrator, and they will tell you that’s its really difficult to implement, particularly in companies with matured and stabilized networking infrastructure and processes.




SDN Implementations Demand Upgrades in Network Management Practices

An almost immediate outcome of SDN implementation will be your enterprise’s ability to quickly serve network resource demands using the software. To maintain transparency, the networking team needs to immediately evaluate the corresponding changes they need to bring in, let’s say, the day end network allocation and utilizing reports. This is just one of the many examples of situations where every SDN linked process improvement will need to be matched by equivalent adjustments in related and linked processes.



Managing De-provisioning Along the Way

At the core of SDN implementations is the enterprise focus on optimizing network usage and managing on-demand network resource requests with agility. While SDN implementations help companies achieve these goals fairly quickly, they often also cause unintended network capacity issues. Among the most common reasons for this is that SDN engineers forget to implement rules for de-provisioning networks when the sudden surge in demand is met. By building de-provisioning as the last logical step in every on-demand resource allocation request, networking teams can make sure that SDN doesn’t become the unintentional cause of network congestion.


Pursue 360 degrees network performance visibility

It’s unlikely that your company will go for a complete overhaul of its network management systems and processes. So, it’s very likely that the SDN implementation will be carried out in a phased manner. Some of the key aspects of managing this well are:

  • Always evaluate the ease with which your existing network performance monitoring tools will allow SDN to plug into them.
  • Look for tools whose APIs allow convenient integration with SDN platforms
  • Evaluate how your current network performance management tools will be able to manage and integrate data from non-SDN and SDN sources.

Note – because hybrid SDN (a balance of traditional and software-defined network) is a practical approach for enterprises, implementations much accommodation the baseline performance monitoring goals of the enterprise. In fact, the introduction of SDN often requires networking teams to improve performance monitoring and reporting practices so that concrete and business process-specific improvements can be measured and reported.



Is SDN an Enterprise Priority Already?

The basics reason why SDN is making its way into IT strategic discussions for even SMBs is that the nature of business traffic has changed tremendously. Systems have moved to the cloud-computing model, and there’s a lot of focus on mobile accessibility of this system.

In times when systems operated mostly in the client-server configuration, the basic tree structure of Ethernet switched worked well. Enterprise network requirements today, however, demand more. SDN is particularly beneficial in enabling access to public and private cloud-based services.

SDN also augers well for another very strong enterprise movement – the one towards mobility. That’s because, with SDN, network administrators can easily provision resources for new mobile endpoints, taking care of security considerations. Also, enterprise data volumes and information needs will only grow. Managing network optimization with many virtual machines and servers in the play, traditionally, will require tremendous investments. SDN makes it more manageable, even from a financial perspective.


Understand and Acknowledge Security Aspects of SDN

Make no assumptions. SDN is a major change in the way your company’s network works. There are specific known risks of SDN implementations that consultants and vendors from this sphere will help you prepare for.

Protocol weaknesses are right at the top. A crucial question for the application security and network security teams to work together on is – do our application security routines accommodate the needs of protocols used in the SDN platform? Another key security-related aspect is to devise measures to prevent SDN switch impersonation.


Choosing External Vendors

The success of an SDN implementation is measured in terms of the positive impact it has in the context of business use cases. If/when you initiate discussions with external consultancies and vendors for your enterprise SDN implementation, make sure you evaluate them not only on the basis of their SDN knowledge but also their ability to understand your business applications ecosystem. This helps them implement SDN platforms that accommodate complex and highly sophisticated business rules of network resource allocation. This, in turn, significantly improves the project’s probability for getting all its goals tick marked.


Concluding Remarks

If SDN is on the strategic roadmap being followed by your enterprise, there’s a lot you can help with. Start with the tips and suggestions shared in this guide.



Author: Rahul Sharma