Software Defined Networking (SDN) Scales Data And Storage Devices

SDN For Data And Storage
SDN For Data And Storage

Software Defined Networking (SDN) is a standard defined in 2008 by the University of California at Berkeley and Stanford University. The standard decouples the management of data flows (the control plane) from the traditional physical infrastructure of routers and switches that make up the computer network (the data plane).

This level of abstraction allows more flexibility in changing the capabilities of the network including the network capacity because the routing is independent of the connection with the final destination. The separation of the control plane from the data plane allows the control plane to reside on more powerful equipment than current routers and switches. Changes implemented in this environment get communicated through the network faster, easing the ability of providers to provide enhanced services to their customers. Furthermore, because the control plane does not concern itself with the final destination, just the route to that destination, the devices beyond the routers and switches can change without disturbing the control plane.

What does this mean? Basically, the route to a specific destination can change dynamically in the control plane as load conditions fluctuate. If a route to a destination becomes clogged, the controller application can determine a different path to the destination that is not experiencing as much traffic thereby reducing the visibility of the congestion to the original service requester. Response times improve and everyone smiles more. The cloud becomes more reliable and implementing rules to manage portions of the network, including firewalls, becomes an easier task.

Different vendors have different strategies and deployment models for implementing the standard in the control plane, which isn’t surprising. Some of the vendors involved in SDN are Brocade, Cisco, HP, Alcatel-Lucent, Juniper and Dell. Each of the vendors will start with their existing customer base and attempt to grow their market share by convincing them that their approach is better than the others. Will a specific vendor come out on top? I suspect that some may drop out but those vendors with the most experience in networked devices and storage will probably become the most predominant ones in the market.

More reliability, faster responses and additional capacity to handle more devices, including the millions of handheld units attaching to the network each day, make SDN a solution to today’s growing needs.

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