The hottest topic in enterprise networking is currently software-defined networks (SDNs), which expand the intelligence of the underlying network fabric to make it more responsive to overall IT demands.
Leading IT trends — mobility, unified communications, social media, “bring your own device,” and big data — all have a significant impact on the enterprise network (Figure 1). But the tremendous growth of public and private cloud services places new demands on the IT organization, particularly when it comes to the scale, agility, and management of the data center. SDNs are a response to those demands, particularly for hyperscale public data centers from the likes of Google, Amazon, Facebook, and other webscale companies. SDNs meet those companies’ needs in terms of provisioning, segmentation (network virtualization), management, and costs.
This report focuses on the emerging opportunities and impact of SDNs on the enterprise network — in particular, the data center network. The evolution of SDN technologies will provide opportunities for IT managers to significantly improve the operations of their networks and the ability to tailor their network to specific applications and IT requirements. (This report does not address the related topic of software-defined networks in the telecommunications network, with the exception of communications service providers who need to transform their data centers and data center networks.)