Software-defined networking (SDN) technology is an approach to network management that enables dynamic, programmatically efficient network configuration in order to improve network performance and monitoring making it more like cloud computing than traditional network management.
SDN is meant to address the fact that the static architecture of traditional networks is decentralized and complex while current networks require more flexibility and easy troubleshooting.
SDN attempts to centralize network intelligence in one network component by disassociating the forwarding process of network packets (data plane) from the routing process (control plane). The control plane consists of one or more controllers which are considered as the brain of SDN network where the whole intelligence is incorporated.
The ability to automate the provisioning of new converged infrastructures in minutes and impact multiple devices at the same time is a game changer, especially considering that today’s relative static environments rely on manual configurations. With SDN, new compute, network and storage devices and features are immediately available for use. When only running daily checks on what’s new in your environment, these dynamic, real-time changes mean significant gaps in visibility.
What’s needed is a performance monitoring solution designed with open APIs. This way you can integrate directly with SDN systems, listen on the event bus and look for new devices, services or changes, and then immediately modify the infrastructure monitoring inventory to ensure performance visibility.
Having service context is an expectation today. As a result, performance monitoring needs to be able to listen in context of a particular customer or tenant of the network. Ultimately, users should be able to not only ask about the health and performance of individual devices or links on the network, but also, “How is Customer A, HD Video Service: New York to London, performing?”
This also extends to service topology, meaning the controllers and performance monitoring solutions share the knowledge of physical and logical connectivity of the devices – both physical and virtual – that make up a service, both in real-time and for historical context.
The inevitable uptick in demand for new compute, network and storage in software-defined infrastructure poses a risk to monitoring platforms. These solutions must be able to add monitoring capacity to accommodate the rapid growth of the infrastructure. If they cannot add additional capacity on demand, they can quickly become over-subscribed, creating performance visibility gaps.
Unlike legacy infrastructure in the SDN world we can have multiple overlay topologies running on top of the physical network. Whenever a new service starts, it deploys the necessary virtual infrastructure, and thus the number of monitored elements can grow rapidly with increased demand – outstripping traditional capacity management.
The solution is to deploy performance monitoring within both physical and virtual appliances. When extra performance management capacity is needed, spinning up additional virtual appliances on demand enables performance monitoring to flex with the demands of an SDN environment and still provide answers in seconds.
Software-Defined Networking (SDN) is a network architecture approach that enables the network to be intelligently and centrally controlled, or ‘programmed,’ using software applications. This helps operators manage the entire network consistently and holistically, regardless of the underlying network technology.
SDN enables network behavior to be controlled by the software that resides beyond the networking devices that provide physical connectivity. As a result, network operators can tailor the behavior of their networks to support new services, and even individual customers. By decoupling the hardware from the software, operators can introduce innovative, differentiated new services rapidly—free from the constraints of closed and proprietary platforms.
SDN is built on logically centralized network topologies, which enable intelligent control and management of network resources. Traditional network control methods are distributed. Devices function autonomously with limited awareness of the state of the network. With the kind of centralized control an SDN-based network provides, bandwidth management, restoration, security, and policies can be highly intelligent and optimized—and an organization gains a holistic view of the network.
Services and applications running on SDN technology are abstracted from the underlying technologies and hardware that provide physical connectivity from network control. Applications will interact with the network through APIs, instead of management interfaces tightly coupled to the hardware.
SDN architectures usher in a new era of openness—enabling multi-vendor interoperability as well as fostering a vendor-neutral ecosystem. Openness comes from the SDN approach itself. The open APIs support a wide range of applications, including cloud orchestration, OSS/BSS, SaaS, and business-critical networked apps. In addition, intelligent software can control hardware from multiple vendors with open programmatic interfaces like OpenFlow. Finally, from within the SDN, intelligent network services and applications can run within a common software environment.
A key advantage of SDN technology is the ability for network operators to write programs that utilize SDN APIs and give applications control over network behaviour.
SDN allows users to develop network-aware applications, intelligently monitor network conditions, and automatically adapt the network configuration as needed.