Hardware has become the networking professional’s arch nemesis. Providers are spending more money and resources to install and maintain hardware, but end up using a fraction of the new systems’ capabilities. SDN promises to replace this burden and waste with an autonomous network that flexes and bends at the command of global control to offer dynamic networks for new service delivery. So the question becomes: “Is SDN really doable?”
Providers are under constant pressure from consumer and business customers demanding faster speeds and new services. And what has long been the primary approach to meeting those demands? You guessed it – more hardware!
Telecoms are desperate to stop investing in expensive, proprietary hardware to deliver specific services. According to SNS Research, that’s what is driving more of them to implement SDN.
The firm’s new report, SDN, NFV & Network Virtualization Ecosystem: 2015 – 2030 – Opportunities, Challenges, Strategies & Forecasts, predicts service providers’ investments in SDN will grow significantly between now and 2020.
The key to making the transition to SDN is what I call “lean hardware” that enables the extraction of the hardware function from the software. That way, you only use the hardware where you need hardware performance. It becomes the invisible optimization layer that you can tune as you need to. No more wasting money on hardware features and functionalities you’ll never use.
Achieving automated global orchestration also requires that the hardware and software use a common language to communicate. For SDN to achieve its goal of network programmability, that language must be open, such as OpenFlow.
What you create is flexible hardware that you can bend and adapt to meet the needs of the network. This flexible platform then lets you deploy the same lean hardware as various elements at the WAN or the campus edge. Internet scale performance becomes critical, as does the ability to operate at line-rate.
So, that’s the long answer to the question “Is SDN really doable?” The short answer is “yes.”