Oct 07 2020

5 Things to Know About Software-Defined Networking

Centralized control and increased visibility ease management for busy campus IT teams.

1. What is software-defined networking?

SDN is a strictly defined concept, separating the job of switching packets from the task of deciding how to switch them. SDN differs from traditional routing protocols designed to find the fastest, most efficient path through the network. Instead, SDN takes factors that are hard to define in normal network routing protocols and simplifies them.

2. Are SDN and network function virtualization the same thing?

No. SDN is all about redesigning data center networks. Network function virtualization is about moving “middleware” (such as firewalls and load balancers) into your virtualized environment without using traditional specialized hardware. Virtualizing these functions can be simpler in an SDN data center, but they are independent concepts.

3. If my applications are in the cloud, should I be investigating SDN?

As a data center technology, SDN isn’t going to be that interesting if you’re shuttering or seriously downsizing your data center LAN. Your cloud service provider may be using SDN products, but that should be invisible to you.

4. Where does SDN fit in my campus network?

The most advanced SDN products are designed for data centers and contain complex applications. When an application has three tiers and dozens of moving parts to securely connect, SDNs can create optimized paths and security separations that are often hard to build manually.

5. Can I use SDN in my WAN?

SD-WAN can build more reliable, faster and cost-effective networks on top of different WAN technologies. It isn’t the type of SDN that you’d find in a data center, but it has the same central idea of increasing the intelligence of the control plane.

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