Evolving SDN: Tackling challenges for web-scale deployments

Table of Contents

  1. Summary
  2. The history of SDN
  3. The challenge
  4. Network agents and overlays
  5. The network controller
  6. Network services
  7. Network functions virtualization
  8. Commoditization
  9. The final verdict
  10. About Greg Ferro


Customers want mobility, rapid change, and larger networks that work with less hassle through the use of powerful automation because this enables business to build speed in innovation. Software-defined networking (SDN) embraces these requirements with new dynamic networking features that enhance server value and user services while operating with an existing network.

Virtualization arrived in networking more than a decade ago in the form of virtual local area networks (VLAN). In the early 2000s, multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) network virtualization enabled vast global networks in the wide area network (WAN). Then, in the mid-2000s, device virtualization arrived and delivered virtual firewalls. Throughout this period of change, the network edge remained located at a fixed physical point with simple, static services.

Server virtualization enables data center mobility, while Wi-Fi and LTE networks enable user mobility. Yet our current network technology remains focused on fixed endpoints. The tension is leading to a change that adapts old requirements for static and stable connections to dynamic and variable forwarding methods. Today’s network is built from hundreds of individual devices that act like separate elements instead of a single platform.

So is SDN the best of everything? In examining that question, this report will also address questions including:

  • What are the major technology enablers for SDN?
  • How are carriers and enterprises implementing SDN to enable distributed applications and cloud infrastructures?
  • How can customers prepare for SDN given that the technology and marketplace are rapidly evolving?
  • What are the key industry standards efforts (IETF, ONF, NFV, etc.), and how do they differ?

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