SDN and the future of networking
THE NETWORK OF THE FUTURE IS ALREADY HERE, WITH SDN PROVIDING THE OPTIMAL FOUNDATION
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
TECHNOLOGY GROUP, RIVERBED
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.