Using Software-defined Networking to Scale the IT Team

IT infrastructure must become easier to manage, to free up the time that IT managers are spending on cumbersome day-to-day management tasks that add little strategic value. To meet this need, automation and software-driven abstraction are becoming baked into modern IT architectures such as hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI). While server virtualization and HCI have introduced greater management simplicity to compute and storage, manual-intensive, switch-by-switch operations at the network layer remain bottlenecks.

Software-defined networking (SDN) has emerged to address this pain point. At its core, SDN separates the network control and data planes, approaching these functions as modular and programmable components, and applies automation across the network. Meanwhile, it facilitates a singular point of control both within and across data centers.

SDN enables granular adjustments to network traffic while abstracting and scaling control plane functions across the environment and establishing an efficient, common data plane. As a result, SDN networks stand to be more dynamic and finely tuned to application demands, while also being easier to operate. From a more advanced perspective, multiple SDN-enabled switches can be federated together to automatically set up underlying protocols, and to set up a mesh of overlay tunnels. This architecture can refine load balancing across the network fabric to accelerate performance.

Accelerating the roll out of IT services is the ultimate objective of SDN. For instance, a network operator can apply a network access control list (ACL) universally as opposed to dozens or hundreds of switches individually. One network administrator can, with SDN, do the work of many. Meanwhile, SDN platforms can increase confidence for service availability by providing alerts if something goes askew. This stands to add substantial value to network managers that are working to quickly react to an ever-growing number of applications and end users, and that are simultaneously pressured to spend more time on value-add, business-centric functions. Network operators can utilize SDN to become more tuned in to serving ever-evolving application and IT service needs, as opposed to troubleshooting or configuring one switch at a time.

Storage Switzerland’s webinar in collaboration with Pluribus Networks, The Software Matters in Open Networking, may be accessed on demand for additional discussion on re-architecting the network to better support digital transformation.

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Senior Analyst, Krista Macomber produces analyst commentary and contributes to a range of client deliverables including white papers, webinars and videos for Storage Switzerland. She has a decade of experience covering all things storage, data center and cloud infrastructure, including: technology and vendor portfolio developments; customer buying behavior trends; and vendor ecosystems, go-to-market positioning, and business models. Her previous experience includes leading the IT infrastructure practice of analyst firm Technology Business Research, and leading market intelligence initiatives formedia company TechTarget.

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