IT Innovators: Increasing Business Agility With SDN

IT Innovators: Increasing Business Agility With SDN

Challenges abound for the IT professional these days. When it comes to the network infrastructure, one that quickly comes to mind is the lack of agility.

This challenge really isn’t all that difficult to understand. It goes a little something like this: Business groups have services or apps built by their developers and for obvious reasons, they want to make them available to customers as soon as possible. Unfortunately, those workloads and services aren’t that simple. They may have a front end, a middle tier and a back end. And there may be a lot of policies surrounding the workloads, for example, around load balancing and firewalls, that have to get applied. By the time the IT department has taken all of these policies and modeled them on the actual physical network, onto the different physical appliances—in production—a lot of time has passed. It may take weeks, or even months, for IT and the network administrators to get to the physical network and do all of the deployment.

This time consuming process is bad news for business groups who want nothing more than to get their workloads deployed and make their services available to customers as soon as possible. This lack of agility also does little to help them maintain competitiveness in an industry where short time-to-market is critical. It’s especially hard to swallow, given the agility that comes with the use of the public cloud. But what’s the answer? How do you get such unparalleled agility that we see in the public cloud?

Utilization of Software-Defined Networking (SDN) in the data center, in particular, as part of a Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC), can help. SDN separates network services and traffic management from the underlying hardware, and uses a network-wide software platform that enables centralized network coordination, control and programmability, to manage network complexity. By doing so, it helps business groups rapidly deploy new applications, infrastructure and services to quickly meet changing business goals and objectives. In other words, it makes them much more agile.

SDN boosts business agility in a couple of key ways. First and foremost, it speeds innovation and the business group’s responsiveness. But, it also allows those groups to optimize their network assets, enhances virtualization and improves security. On top of that, it reduces operational and capital expenditures.

The trick, of course, in achieving this type of agility is to ensure you use the right SDN solution. But, what solution would that be, you might ask? One tip I can give you when it comes to selecting a solution is to look for a vendor that has first-hand experience with software defining their own operation. My logic behind this is pretty simple: If they’ve been through this process themselves, they’re more likely to have a solid understanding of what you will face and in turn, have made sure the solutions they offer you are well tested in a public environment and up to meeting your most difficult challenges.

Consider, for example, a vendor with a large number of physical servers in its datacenters and one that onboards a large number of new customers each month. Doing so would be virtually impossible, if for every workload and every single change, the vendor had to go in and make changes in the physical network. But, imagine that the vendor was able to write code to software-define almost everything and in the process make themselves much more agile. Then imagine that the SDN stack the vendor used, or some variant of it, was made available to you for use in your data center. That’s the type of solution that could be counted on to deliver you greater agility.

A solution that is based on a template-driven model would also be a smart choice, as it gives you the ability to easily express all network policies associated with the application in place using templates. These templates could then be quickly deployed the same way, every time. The result would not only be shortened onboarding of new tenants and services, but increased quality as well.

Be sure and check out my next blog for information on other networking pain points that can be overcome by using SDN in the data center. And, don’t forget to check here for additional blog posts on a range of other IT-related issues.

This blog is sponsored by Microsoft.

Cheryl J. Ajluni is a freelance writer and editor based in California. She is the former Editor-in-Chief of Wireless Systems Design and served as the EDA/Advanced Technology editor for Electronic Design for over 10 years. She is also a published book author and patented engineer. Her work regularly appears in print and online publications. Contact her at [email protected] with your comments or story ideas.


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