SDN has been around for time now and we could there are about three basic areas that have emerged as part of the movement.
1. Network automation - While automation and scripting has been around for some time, there is a bigger interest to have automation capabilities and APIs built into the switch OS. Example of this would Arista EOS, Cisco OnePK and several others. Tools such as Puppet and Chef are becoming very mainstream in networking.
2. Control Plane Abstraction - This approach is predominantly built around Openflow for both Physical and Overlay networking. Obviously, the overlay portion is getting more attention these days. The real focus of approach is provide better network wide abstraction to allow better application level to network programming. This effort is mainly managed by the Open Networking Foundation (ONF).
3. Open Switching - This could also be called Open Networking. The focus here is to separate the switch OS from the Hardware and is mainly advocated by the Open Compute Project started by Facebook. The real goal here is that any hardware vendor could package the switch with a choice of operating systems based on customer specific needs. This movement seems biased towards large cloud providers and not the typical enterprise.
Now that we have a view of the different flavors of Software Defined Networking (SDN); what are the business cases to deploy such technology?
1. Cost - The approach of open networking could reduce the cost for hardware in general as now the need for vendor lock-in would be reduced. The other side to cost reduction could be in the case of lowering operational tasks and churn.
2. Flexibility - This would come in several ways. In the case of Open OS approach, the customer can now deploy any application on the switch for network management. No longer dependent on a vendor to provide such. The other side of flexibility is the case with control plane abstraction, resources can be moved around in the network with minimal configuration effort.
3. Services - With all these tools at your disposal its now possible to add and deploy new services on the network without significant network changes. This is especially important for security and other functions.
4. Analytics - This has become a very important part of the network as it gives you the ability to see what has been happening in time down to the application level between end points.
There are probably other good cases but we do think these are some of the core benefits for deploying an SDN style network in the future.
What is your take on these business cases? Leave a comment