SDN and the fu­ture of net­work­ing


Network Middle East - - JANUARY 2019 -

Soft­ware De­fined Net­work­ing (SDN) has been around for sev­eral years, but only re­cently has this tech­nol­ogy taken flight. A lot of en­ter­prises and ser­vice providers have suc­cess­fully de­ployed some form of SDN tech­nol­ogy in pro­duc­tion. As IT and line of busi­ness (LOB) lead­ers con­tinue to re­alise the ben­e­fits of ap­pli­ca­tion-level use cases around agility, per­for­mance and ef­fi­ciency, SDN adop­tion will only con­tinue to be on the rise, notes Paul Grif­fiths, se­nior di­rec­tor, ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy group, Riverbed.

In fact, as far back as 2015, a Riverbed sur­vey showed nearly 75% of en­ter­prises have Pocs in place lever­ag­ing an SDN so­lu­tion within their data cen­tre in­clud­ing 13% who have al­ready de­ployed it. No doubt these fig­ures would have in­creased by now, Grif­fiths ob­serves.

Ja­son Poole, prin­ci­pal prod­uct mar­ket­ing man­ager at Citrix de­scribes SDN as a “great tech­nol­ogy look­ing for a prob­lem to solve.”

“SDN has many uses, but one of them to is to en­hance app de­liv­ery and GB speeds and zero-la­tency on the cor­po­rate LAN. This means there is lit­tle need to rip and re­place (or even over­lay) the net­work,” ex­plains Poole.

More ap­pli­ca­tions are be­ing de­ployed in the cloud (or taken as Saas), which de­creases the re­quire­ment for SDN, says Poole. “The ex­cep­tion to the En­ter­prise adopt­ing SDN is on the WAN. This is the area where things are con­strained and the net­work be­hav­iour needs to be mod­i­fied.”

SD-WAN is not grow­ing as fast as the in­dus­try pre­dicted how­ever, Poole ob­serves. “Many cus­tomers are “look­ing” at it and then opt­ing to use it as lever­age to re­duce costs for their cur­rent set up on re­newal. Other cus­tomers are adopt­ing a DIY ap­proach and still, more are look­ing to their ser­vice providers to do it for them.”

The pur­pose of net­works has evolved over time, from pro­vid­ing re­li­able con­nec­tions to of­fer­ing open, sim­ple, and se­cure plat­forms to en­able dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion. SDN is a tech­nol­ogy en­abling net­work trans­for­ma­tion, says Faisal Malik, CTO of Huawei en­ter­prise so­lu­tion sales depart­ment.

“SDN im­proves net­work us­age, sim­pli­fies net­work O&M, au­to­mates the de­ploy­ment of net­work re­sources, cre­ates sim­pler and wider ter­mi­nal in­ter­con­nec­tions in the IOT sec­tor, im­ple­ments free mo­bil­ity of cam­pus net­work ser­vices, and of­fers on- de­mand en­ter­prise in­ter­con­nec­tions. By lever­ag­ing SDN, en­ter­prises can de­fine their own net­works and mod­ify net­works to sup­port dig­i­tal up­grades,” says Malik.

Adopt­ing a zero-trust model gives CISOS a greater chance of pro­tect­ing their com­pany’s most im­por­tant as­set, its data.” PAUL GRIF­FITHS, SE­NIOR DI­REC­TOR, AD­VANCED



With se­cu­rity be­ing top-of-the-agenda for com­pa­nies in re­cent times, the fact that SDN brings with it the abil­ity for mi­cro-seg­men­ta­tion to in­te­grate with ex­ist­ing se­cu­rity poli­cies is a ma­jor boost. Mi­cro-seg­men­ta­tion in the world of SDN en­ables con­trol right to the in­di­vid­ual net­work in­ter­faces of an or­gan­i­sa­tion’s in­fra­struc­ture.

Adopt­ing a zero-trust model gives CISOS a greater chance of pro­tect­ing their com­pany’s most im­por­tant as­set, its data, says Grif­fiths. “It is well un­der­stood that data loss and other se­cu­rity-re­lated events aren’t just in­sti­gated by at­tacks from out­side the data cen­tre which is nor­mally the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the cor­po­rate fire­walls to com­bat. Se­cu­rity poli­cies that in­cor­po­rate mi­cro-seg­men­ta­tion also en­com­pass ap­pli­ca­tions, users, de­vices, and net­works in­side the data cen­tre, thereby in­creas­ing the scope of pro­tec­tion right across the en­ter­prise.

“This is es­pe­cially true when those poli­cies are also in­te­grated with SD-WAN across the wide area net­work, into the branches and clouds where the at­tack sur­face has now

spread since the rise of the in­ter­net as a vi­able com­pan­ion or al­ter­na­tive to MPLS, as well as di­rect in­ter­net ac­cess from the branch,” Grif­fiths ob­serves.

Most en­ter­prise work­loads mov­ing to cloud en­vi­ron­ment and data cen­tres are get­ting com­plex with more and more ap­pli­ca­tions be­ing added. In com­plex multi-ten­ant data cen­tre en­vi­ron­ments, net­work ad­min­is­tra­tors pre­fer to make use of mi­croseg­men­ta­tion and take se­cu­rity poli­cies to the ap­pli­ca­tion level be­tween work­loads, rather than be­tween dif­fer­ent data cen­tre el­e­ments, Malik says.

“SDN helps im­ple­ment over­lay net­works which are used to fully au­to­mate the im­ple­men­ta­tion of mi­cro-seg­men­ta­tion. One of the big­gest ad­van­tages of SDN is bet­ter con­trol on se­cu­rity in your net­work and it goes well with mi­cro-seg­men­ta­tion,” he adds.

The WAN will likely be­come the new in­ter­net – hence SD-WAN’S im­por­tance in the en­ter­prise will only grow over time.” JA­SON POOLE PRIN­CI­PAL PROD­UCT MAR­KET­ING MAN­AGER AT CITRIX


SD-WAN is emerg­ing as the next wave of net­work in­no­va­tion for re­mote and branch of­fice lo­ca­tions due to the op­er­a­tional ben­e­fits and cost sav­ings over tra­di­tional WAN.

Poole of Citrix says as SDN adop­tion in the en­ter­prise slows, the WAN will be­come more im­por­tant. “The WAN will likely be­come the in­ter­net – hence SD-WAN’S im­por­tance will grow over time,” he adds.

So, is SD-WAN the new SDN?

While SDN is aimed at mak­ing the net­work more flex­i­ble and ef­fi­cient, SD-WAN is fo­cused on pro­vid­ing sim­i­lar ca­pa­bil­i­ties for WANS and ap­plies this con­cept to the cloud and at the edge at branch and re­mote sites, Grif­fiths of Riverbed ex­plains. “SD-WAN ar­chi­tec­ture pro­vides im­proved and se­cure in­ter­net con­nec­tiv­ity al­low­ing IT and other op­er­a­tions teams to man­age the WAN, iden­tify, and ad­dress ser­vice is­sues. It also

30% Will have SDWAN in brances by 2019

pro­vides au­to­ma­tion and or­ches­tra­tion ca­pa­bil­i­ties for fur­ther ease of man­age­ment,” Grif­fiths says.

As a re­sult, to­day’s SD-WANS are pro­vid­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions lower costs by elim­i­nat­ing re­liance on ex­pen­sive MPLS con­nec­tions to in­ter­con­nect re­mote sites; higher per­for­mance by lever­ag­ing mul­ti­ple net­work paths and faster con­nec­tions for cer­tain ap­pli­ca­tions; and in­creased net­work agility by de­creas­ing man­ual con­fig­u­ra­tions through in­creased au­to­ma­tion and or­ches­tra­tion.

Gart­ner pre­dicts that by the end of 2019, 30% of en­ter­prises will have de­ployed SD-WAN in their branch lo­ca­tions. This is sup­ported by re­search by IDC which es­ti­mates that world­wide SD-WAN rev­enues will ex­ceed $6 bil­lion in 2020 with a com­pound an­nual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 90% over the next 3-5 years.

Grow­ing from its po­si­tion as an es­tab­lished WAN- Op­ti­mi­sa­tion provider, Riverbed of­fers an end-to-end SD-WAN so­lu­tion, Steel­con­nect, for en­ter­prises and ser­vice providers. Steel­con­nect SD-WAN of­fers sin­gle-click cre­ation of SDWAN ca­pa­bil­i­ties in the cloud and fully au­to­mated se­cure con­nec­tiv­ity be­tween cloud ven­dors, be­tween cloud re­gions and be­tween branch lo­ca­tions and the cloud, says Grif­fiths.


If we must move to an in­tel­li­gent world, we need bet­ter and in­tel­li­gent net­works - net­works that can pro­vi­sion faster, that are more se­cure, elas­tic, of­fer bet­ter O&M tools, and are also user cen­tric rather than purely tech­nol­ogy-cen­tric.

SDN is thus evolv­ing to its new form, Iden­tity-de­fined Net­work­ing or IDN, says Malik. “We be­lieve speed, agility and flex­i­bil­ity will dic­tate whether a com­pany is a mar­ket leader or a lag­gard, or even whether it goes out of busi­ness. The build­ing blocks of dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion—iot, cloud, mo­bil­ity and big data—are all net­work-cen­tric in na­ture, putting the net­work at the cen­tre of this trend. It’s crit­i­cal that IT lead­ers look to evolve the net­work from the legacy, static as­set it is to­day into a strate­gic re­source that can cre­ate com­pet­i­tive dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion,” says Malik.

Do­ing so re­quires mak­ing the shift to an IDN, as it’s the right net­work model for the dig­i­tal era.

IDN ad­vances many of the ca­pa­bil­i­ties cre­ated by soft­ware- de­fined net­works. “It’s im­por­tant to un­der­stand that an IDN is a fully au­ton­o­mous net­work that goes be­yond au­to­ma­tion. In the field of in­no­va­tive high-per­for­mance AI com­put­ing, net­works re­quire ul­tra-low la­tency and zero packet loss. Un­for­tu­nately, ex­ist­ing net­works are not ca­pa­ble of de­liv­er­ing ser­vices quickly enough,” says Malik.

Huawei’s IDN so­lu­tion brings to mar­ket an Ul­tra-high­Speed Loss­less Eth­er­net AI Fab­ric, which lever­ages con­ges­tion sched­ul­ing to shorten AI train­ing times by up to 40% and re­duce to­tal cost of own­er­ship (TCO) by up to 53%. This helps ISPS and en­ter­prises in­no­vate new ser­vice ap­pli­ca­tions lever­ag­ing AI quickly, and more cost-ef­fec­tively, says Malik.

“Huawei’s IDN’S core phi­los­o­phy is in­tel­li­gence, sim­plic­ity, ul­tra-broad­band, open­ness, and se­cu­rity. Huawei is con­tin­u­ing to grad­u­ally re­lease sce­nario-spe­cific so­lu­tions that meet in­dus­try needs. We are also ex­pand­ing with part­ner­ships and col­lab­o­ra­tions to pro­mote IDN im­ple­men­ta­tion across in­dus­tries, as part of its con­tin­ued ef­forts to bring dig­i­tal to ev­ery per­son, home, and or­gan­i­sa­tion for a fully con­nected, in­tel­li­gent world,” Malik says.

Net­work­ing has evolved over the past few decades driven by high de­mand for com­put­ing re­sources. The re­sult has been in­creased com­plex­ity, how­ever. SDN, and the tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance­ments it has spurred such as SD-WAN and IDN, prom­ises to re-shape net­work­ing into a more uni­fied plat­form that sim­pli­fies net­work ser­vices and op­er­a­tions, im­proves scal­a­bil­ity, and sim­pli­fies op­er­a­tions.

Speed, agility and flex­i­bil­ity will dic­tate whether a com­pany is a mar­ket leader or a lag­gard, or even whether it goes out of busi­ness.” FAISAL MALIK, CTO OF HUAWEI EN­TER­PRISE SO­LU­TION SALES DEPART­MENT

the fact that SDN brings with it the abil­ity for mi­cro- seg­men­ta­tion to in­te­grate with ex­ist­ing se­cu­rity poli­cies is a ma­jor boost.

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