Software Defined Networking

Software-defined networking (SDN), the buzz of the networking world is supposed to cure all the ills associated with today’s networking. SDN promises to remove these pain points by making it easier for customers to manage their networks, and adding a virtual layer on top of the physical network.

  • Reduce excessive deployment of networking gears every time a new services are introduced.
  • Centralized management of entire Network.
  • Real time provisioning of network based on application demand.
  • Separation of networking planes/layers.

SDN Architecture & Functional Layers:

Networks are distributed – throughout a data center, over a campus, within a city, or in the case of the Internet, across the entire planet. Networks have always been built as a collection of separate, self-contained, individually managed devices. But centralization is powerful; it is a key principle for SDN based networking software. Operators would like to manage the network as a system and Centralized Management does that job. When we centralize management, it becomes the configuration master; all of the devices keep just a copy. Services can also move to the center and are performed on behalf of all devices.

Today’s networking software sitting on network gears (Routers/Firewalls/Switches) can be separate into four layers or planes (Forwarding, Control. Services, and Management). These layers must be separated in order to build the next generation, highly scalable network.

Form iLink’s perspective, it is the management plane where ilInk is most focused and provide expertise. Management planes must run on high volume servers. Network devices need to be configured, or managed. The Management plane provides the basic instructions of how the network device should interact with the rest of the network. Manual configuration often leads misconfiguration or missteps leading to outages and also, requires a small number of network specialists. Management planes can run on one or more general purpose computers.

iLink’s SDN Migration Path suggestion:

So in order to move from past to future, we believe that NW operators will most probably follow multiple steps because we have to deal with the reality that we live in a world where some things will be centralized with SDN and others will not because legacy network will continue to exist side by side for a while.

Some of the steps are:

  • Management is the best place to start as this provides the biggest bang for the buck. The key is to centralize network management, analytics, and configuration functionality to provide a single master that configures all networking devices. Centralized management system is packaged in x86 virtual machines (VM’s) running on industry standard servers. Those VM’s are orchestrated using one of the commonly available orchestration systems such as VMware’s vCloud Director, Microsoft System Center, or OpenStack. In the case of the service provider, their operational and business systems connect to the centralized management VM’s which configure the network. Configuration will be performed through published API’s and protocols.
  • Creating a platform that enables services to be built using modern, x86 VM’s opens up a whole new world of possibility. So we can pull the security services out of the device and then run them on a bank of inexpensive x86 servers to dramatically increase capacity and agility.
  • Networking and security devices generate huge amounts of data about what is happening across the network. iLink’s NW analytics offering and expertise in “Big Data” analytics techniques can be applied to networking and security data to better understand business opportunities, and focus accordingly.
  • Perhaps, creating a Centralized Controller is another big step where most of the existing networking software vendors will be playing a bigger role because of their existing knowledge & expertise in such software modules.

Migration path:

  • Utilize Centralized, Resilient Control.
  • Harden SDN environment & Make it Highly available and scalable.
  • Make Environment Security Proof.
  • Integration with Intelligent Management Center (IMC).
  • Leverage existing hybrid Switches.
  • Utilize Open programmable interfaces.