SDN has made waves in the world of network management. With its cost-saving benefits, many network engineers are incorporating it into their network design plans.
Especially as network speeds continue to rise, it’s important to understand what SDN has to offer. Before you decide whether it’s right for your business or client, you must know how it could streamline your management and compare it to other options.
What Is Software-Defined Networking?
SDxCentral defines SDN as “a new approach to designing, building, and managing networks that separates the network’s control (brains) and forwarding (muscle) planes to better optimize each.”
Rather than utilize several networking applications and monitoring tools that are managed individually, SDN separates control logic to off-device computers in order to centralize network control. Software-defined networking also requires you to have a method of communication between the control plane and data plane. This new design methodology empowers you to manage network services through abstraction of lower-level functionality.
With SDN, you have a high level of flexibility in terms of dictating switches, routers, and underlying systems and how your forwarding plane handles your network traffic and relays information.
Customizable and cost-effective, SDN has become more prevalent as bandwidth has increased and applications have become more complex. With directly programmable network control, you have the power to decide how network traffic and data flow through your network.
In total, SDN streamlines the design, deployment, management, and scalability of your network while mitigating the risk of human error and automating provisioning processes.
Is Your Network Complete With SDN Alone?
A critical component to the design of a virtual network (such as SDN) or a physical network is the network TAP. According to Network World, “The Open Networking Foundation (ONF) announced a Sample Tap application in March 2014, and OpenFlow version 1.4 already includes a use case for configuring switches with an NPB-like functionality.” That said, it was not created with the purpose of replacing packet broker functionalities, but more so as an educational tool to help programmers gain experience with OpenFlow.
Whether network packet brokers are virtualized or not, the TAP is essential to your visibility plane and your ability to properly manage your network.
A TAP is placed between two ends of your network to pass complete packet copies of traffic flowing between devices – or in this case, between the control (SDN) and forwarding devices/software. When installed, your traffic flows through the network TAP uninterrupted.
Regardless of whether you stick with a physical network environment or go the route of SDN, your network visibility is dependent on having a TAP to connect your virtual and physical network components. Be proactive in designing your network with this critical network device. Without it, you’re risking the benefits that SDN provides.
If you want to learn more about the promises of SDN, NFV and the importance of maintaining 100% network visibility as you make the transition, download our free white paper, Architecting Data Centers for SDN and NFV - In 40G and 100G Environments