IT Brief New Zealand logo
Technology news for New Zealand's largest enterprises
Story image

SDN - One of the hottest networking topics at present

Fri 11 Oct 2013
FYI, this story is more than a year old

One of the hottest topics in networking at the moment – if not the whole of IT, is the concept of Software Defined Networking or SDN.

A recent IDC report titled ‘Technology Assessment: The Impact of OpenFlow on Data Center Network Architectures’ predicts that the OpenFlow and SDN market will grow to almost $2 billion by 2016.

So what is SDN and what is all the noise about?The move towards highly virtualised environments and environments where rapid changes to service delivery occur have created challenges for traditional switched Ethernet networks.

Software Defined Networking aims to overcome these limitations by separating the management and control planes of the switch and moving these into a separate controller.

This leaves the network hardware – the switches and routers – to do what they do best, that is forward traffic.

One of the aims of SDN is to deliver greater agility and flexibility to environments where this is desperately needed – namely telco’s, service providers and data centers.

This would enable services to be rapidly deployed and would simplify the migration of environments from one location to another. What is less clear is what benefit, if any, enterprise organisations will achieve from the deployment of SDN.

In moving the intelligence from individual network devices to a centralised controller, there is the belief by many that this will commoditise networking hardware and result in lower cost networks.

It is true that much of the value within today’s networking devices can be found in the software that runs on these devices and not the hardware itself.

As a result of removing the software from the device, it is highly likely that SDN will decrease the cost of hardware - however hardware is only one part of the network.

In moving the intelligence to a centralised controller, organisations will need to make a significant investment in the controller and required applications to manage and operate an SDN network.

In addition, due to the complexity of SDN, it will be necessary to hire or contract additional skills to manage or oversee an SDN environment. These factors are likely to deliver increased agility and flexibility but will come at a cost as a result of additional knowledge and skills required to oversee the environment.

While telco’s, service providers and data centers are grappling with challenges associated with scalability, flexibility and agility, enterprise organisations are dealing with a completely different set of challenges.

Sit down and speak to an IT manager or C-level executive inside a 500 to 1000 seat organisation and they will talk about complexity and a desire to simplify their IT environment.

They will talk about the need to deliver business outcomes in the most efficient manner possible. Software Defined Networking is unlikely to help enterprise organisations with these challenges.

You could argue that some form of Network Management System or NMS is one way to simplify the management of an IT environment. The reality is that in order to manage the greatest number of devices including servers, storage and networks, users have to sacrifice some extended functionality.

An example is the ability to configure QoS or ACL’s across a network of switches which is challenging if not impossible using third-party NMS platforms. The end result is that organisations that do deploy an NMS, typically use it as a monitoring tool rather than a management tool.

This means they have to resort to managing discrete devices independently or use yet another platform for managing devices like a network of switches which again increases the cost and complexity.

While the primary benefits of SDN are increased agility or flexibility which are primary requirements in large data center environments, enterprise organisations are grappling with reduced complexity and decreasing the total cost of ownership of their infrastructure.

SDN is unlikely to help in overcoming the challenges of enterprise organisations so it is necessary to look at other ways to overcome these challenges.

What if there was another way though?

While switches and routers are perceived to be expensive, the reality is that the majority of the cost of operating a network is in the labour and skills to deploy and manage the network over time.

One enterprise customer recently commented that even if you gave him (at no cost) switches to replace his network, he couldn’t do it as he didn’t have the budget to manage the upgrade.

And if we consider the complexity that enterprise users see within their infrastructure, this challenge is largely associated with making the environment (or network) operate as a single unified entity.

These challenges can all be overcome by changing the management plane of the network associated with how devices are managed.

Imagine a network ,where, when a new device was connected, it was automatically configured by the network itself.

Or a network where firmware and configuration is automatically backed up so that should a device fail, all that is required is to replace it with an identical device and it would be automatically configured and operational.

Or making a configuration change to a network was as simple as entering a single command once and it would be automatically pushed out to all devices across the network.

This type of functionality would go a long way toward simplifying the management of networks, reduce the amount of time and effort required to manage the network driving down the Total Cost of Ownership and would result in greater uptime and end user satisfaction as the chances of errors or omissions being made during changes are greatly reduced.

When you are considering SDN or looking to upgrade your infrastructure, here are four things to consider:

- Develop a list of outcomes you expect from your technology upgrade;

- Assess suitable technologies that will achieve these outcomeso Ensure outcomes are driving the technology you chose rather than the other way round;

- Develop a deployment plan to migrate from you current environment to your new environmento Ensure you have a plan for rolling back if things don’t work out as planned

- Measure your expected outcomes against actual outcomeso Did you achieve what was expected?o If not, what not? What would need to change in order for the upgrade to be successful?

In many instances, organisations become fixated on a specific technology which fails to deliver because, as great as the technology may be, it wasn’t suitable for their environment.

Always ensure your business outcomes are driving the technology you use and you are more likely to succeed in achieving those outcomes.

By Scott Penno - Allied Telesis

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Red Sift
Entrust expands strategic partnership with Red Sift
Entrust has expanded its strategic partnership with Red Sift to make it easier for businesses to adopt Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI) standards for email identification and security.
Story image
Hybrid Cloud
Barracuda expands cloud-native SASE platform
"The expansion of Barracuda's cloud-native SASE platform for hybrid deployment models and IIoT environments solves a number of challenges."
Story image
Digital Transformation
Digital transformation increasing business complexities
A new survey suggests businesses must re-examine their digital transformation approach to better help employees adapt to change.
Story image
Data Protection
Information management capabilities to meet privacy requirements
Organisations with customers or operations across more than one country face a spate of new and proposed privacy and data protection laws.
Story image
Tech job moves - Forcepoint, Malwarebytes, SolarWinds & VMware
We round up all job appointments from May 13-20, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
SoftIron named global leader for efficient DC infrastructure solutions
SoftIron has been named a global leader for supplying energy-efficient data infrastructure solutions for core-to-edge data centers after an assessment by Earth Capital Ltd.
Story image
Customer experience
Gartner recognises Okta for abilities in Access Management
Okta has announced it has been recognised as a Customers' Choice for the fourth time in a row in the Gartner Peer Insights "Voice of the Customer" report.
Story image
Maintaining secure systems with expectations of flexible work
Most office workers feel they've proved they can work successfully from home, and as much as employers try, things aren't going back to the way they were anytime soon.
Story image
Infosec unveils role-guided cybersecurity training roadmaps 
Infosec Skills Roles maps hands-on training and certifications to the 12 most in-demand cybersecurity roles to maximise training efficiency.
Story image
Comcast to use ThreatQuotient for cybersecurity operations
Comcast, the parent company of NBC Universal and SKY Group, has chosen ThreatQ Platform and ThreatQ Investigations to meet their cybersecurity needs.
Story image
Manhattan Associates
Shortening the click-to-customer cycle through smart technologies
Speed of delivery without accuracy is a dealbreaker for consumers. How can retailers operating in an omnichannel environment overcome the challenge of click-to-customer cycle times.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Gartner reveals top three tech trends for banks this year
Gartner says generative artificial intelligence, autonomic systems and privacy-enhancing computation are gaining traction in banking and investment services.
Story image
New Relic
New Relic launches vulnerability management platform
New Relic has introduced New Relic Vulnerability Management to help organisations find and address security risks faster and with greater precision.
Story image
Sift shares crucial advice for preventing serious ATO breaches
Are you or your business struggling with Account Takeover Fraud (ATO)? One of the latest ebooks from Sift can provide readers with the tools and expertise to help launch them into the new era of account security.
Booster Innovation Fund. A fund of Kiwi ingenuity – for Kiwi investors.
Link image
Story image
CERT NZ releases first Cyber Security Insights for 2022
CERT NZ has released Quarter One: Cyber Security Insights 2022, which offers an overview of reports about cybersecurity incidents affecting New Zealanders.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Frost & Sullivan recognises Genesys as leader in new reports
Frost & Sullivan has recognised Genesys as a leader in the cloud contact centre market for its robust cloud and digital capabilities.
Story image
Aligned Data Centers increases sustainability-linked loan
Aligned Data Centers has increased its sustainability-linked loan from $375 million to $1.75 billion to speed up the next phase of its strategic growth.
Story image
Let’s clear the cloud visibility haze with app awareness
Increasingly, organisations are heading for the cloud, initiating new born-in-the-cloud architectures and migrating existing applications via ‘lift and shift’ or refactoring.
Story image
Fastly acquires Glitch, enables faster developer innovation
"This acquisition brings together two of the worlds best ecosystems for application development into a single, seamless developer experience."
Story image
MEC spending for private cellular networks to reach $5.8b
A new ABI Research report finds the revenue for Multi Access Edge Compute (MEC) deployments for private cellular networks will reach USD$5.8 billion by 2030.
Story image
Digital Marketing
Getty Images delves into the world of NFTs with Candy Digital
Getty Images and Candy Digital, the next-generation digital collectible company, have announced a new multi-year partnership agreement.
Story image
Data Center
Preventing downtime costs and damage with Distributed Infrastructure Management
Distributed Infrastructure Management (DIM) can often be a lifeline for many enterprises that work with highly critical ICT infrastructure and power sources.
Story image
Remote Working
Successful digital transformation in the hybrid work era is about embracing shifting goalposts
As organisations embraced remote working, many discovered they lacked the infrastructure needed to support history’s first global load test of remote work capabilities.
Threat actors are exploiting weaknesses in interconnected IT/OT ecosystems. Darktrace illuminates your entire business and takes targeted action to stop emerging attacks.
Link image
Story image
Ponemon Institute
Email revealed to be riskiest channel for data loss
More than half (60%) of organisations experienced data loss or exfiltration caused by an employee mistake on email in the last 12 months.
Story image
Vectra AI
Understanding the weight on security leader’s shoulders, and how to shift it
Millions of dollars of government funding and internal budgets are being funnelled into cybersecurity to build resilience against sophisticated threats, indicating how serious this issue has become.
Story image
ChildFund launches new campaign to protect children online
ChildFund says WEB Safe & Wise aims to protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse online while also empowering them to become digitally savvy. 
Find out how a behavioural analytics-driven approach can transform security operations with the new Exabeam commissioned Forrester study.
Link image
Story image
Alteryx releases updates, empowers data insights for enterprise
Alteryx has released new advancements designed to aid enterprises with cloud analytics, democratise insights and ensure data governance.
Story image
Silver Peak
The path to an adaptive, modern network
Managing and securing the network looks different than it did just two years ago—especially given that most of these networks are made up of multi-generations of infrastructure stitched together over time.
Story image
Cyber attacks
Devastating cyber attacks expected to hit energy sector
Energy executives anticipate life, property, and environment-compromising cyber attacks on the sector within the next two years.
Story image
Multi Cloud
Red Hat updates dev tools, empowers use of hybrid and multicloud
Red Hat has unveiled updates across its portfolio of developer tools, designed to help organisations build and deliver applications faster.
Story image
Alarming surge in Conti Ransomware Group activity - report
A new report has identified a 7.6 per cent increase in the number of vulnerabilities tied to ransomware in Q1 2022.
Story image
Skills shortages hold orgs back from capitalising on cloud 2.0
Organisations are becoming more comfortable with sophisticated 'cloud 2.0' technologies, even as they confront difficulties in hiring and retaining IT talent.
Story image
Vectra AI
Vectra’s inaugural Partner of the Year Awards revealed
APAC companies Baidam, Firmus, ShellSoft and Macnica have been recognised in Vectra AI's inaugural Partner of the Year Awards.
Story image
SPS network now available to CrescoData eCommerce customers
CrescoData, a Pitney Bowes Company and PaaS business in the commerce space, says its customers can now connect to the SPS Commerce Retail Network.
Story image
Managed service provider
Barracuda MSP Day 2022 highlights MSP opportunities
Barracuda Networks has released a report showing global services-related MSP revenue is set to increase by more than a third in 2022 compared to 2021.
Story image
Equinix announces milestones on sustainability commitments
Equinix has released its 2021 Sustainability Report which outlines progress, innovation and accomplishments on key ESG commitments.
Story image
Sysdig unveils new Kubernetes troubleshooting and cloud innovations
Sysdig has introduced two new innovations that look to help bolster cloud services and simplify Kubernetes troubleshooting.
Story image
APAC organisations fail to disclose ransomware breaches
85% of organisations in APAC were breached by ransomware at least once in the past five years, but only 28% publicly disclosed the incident.
Story image
Trojan cyber attacks hitting SMBs harder than ever - Kaspersky
In 2022 the number of Trojan-PSW detections increased by almost a quarter compared to the same period in 2021 to reach 4,003,323.
Story image
Digital Signage
MAXHUB's Digital Signage range to bolster boardroom productivity
The new MAXHUB Digital Signage technology is purpose-built to make every kind of team meeting more effective.
Story image
Digital Marketing
Similarweb acquires SEO and rank tracking company Rank Ranger
Digital intelligence company Similarweb, which specialises in analysing web traffic, has acquired Rank Ranger, a market leader in SEO and rank tracking.