SDN, or software defined networking, isn’t exactly new. The concept came into being back in the 1990’s. However, the realization of the potential for SDN has only come into play very recently. In fact, technology is only now nearing the true potential of SDN, and it will likely be 5 to 10 years before the revolution SDN is capable of initiating is a reality. So, what is SDN and how is it positioned to revolutionize the future?
What is SDN?
SDN is a completely different approach to how networking is done. It gives network administrators the ability to abstract the lower-level functions of the network. It works by decoupling the decision-making system that manages network traffic (called the control plane) from the systems that are in charge of forwarding the traffic to its destinations (called the data plane). Essentially, it makes network management simpler and more cost effective.
SDN and the Data Center
SDN will soon allow businesses to purchase Data Centers as a Service or DaaS. In other words, data centers will be virtualized. Are businesses ready to make this step away from onsite, hands-on IT to essentially renting out their data access? Google already has the capability of doing so, and as big data becomes more crucial to business practices, many small- to mid-sized businesses will need DaaS in order to remain competitive on tight budgets. SDN technology has the potential to cut energy consumption by as much as half, while lowering CAPEX, improving operational efficiency, and reducing the time it takes to deploy new services to the marketplace.
SDN and Telecommunications
Like data centers, telecom is expected to move away from the physical and into the virtual. This is called the “softwareization” of telecommunications. The way it works is by virtualizing what is known as the middle boxes, such as WAN optimizers, NAT, performance enhancement proxies, and firewalls. Using SDN with NFV (Network Function Virtualization), Level 2 through Level 7 applications can be completely virtualized. As technologies like ultra-broadband, low-latency connectivity, and high-performance processing power come into play, this could revolutionize the way telecommunications is handled.
SDN and the Bright Future
What does all this mean? Essentially, just as robotics has revolutionized the way manufacturing is done, SDN can revolutionize the way computing is done. The idea of physical servers and machines being essential to business will change into a cloud-based society that houses and accesses data virtually. If all of this sounds a bit big-brotherish, don’t worry. It is still half a decade to a full decade away.
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