Software Defined Networking – a new approach to network design & operation


Paul Horrocks - HP

In order to be successful and differentiate, IT must deliver the unconstrained platform that allows the business to be agile and nimble. Traditional networks used today limit business and the ability to freely move applications to the cloud. Traditional networks are application indifferent, with rigid, multi-tier architectures which limit the deployment of cloud applications and impede the traffic flows across the network from the data centre to the user in the campus or branch. In addition, traditional networks require dozens of disaggregated manual management applications to configure, deploy, and monitor physical and virtual networks, resulting in an incomplete view of the network.

Successful cloud data centres require a network to enable rapid deployment of applications, meet the traffic demands of large-scale virtual workload mobility and federated applications, and deliver secure multi-tenancy. But today’s data centre networks are too inflexible to deliver rapid deployment of virtualized workloads and adapt to the needs of large-scale workload mobility. Traditional network processes and tools use device-by-device manual configuration and provisioning which are error-prone, time consuming, reactive, and isolated from IT-wide orchestration. In addition, IT operating models are often bureaucratic and compartmentalized. The current complexity of IT is holding back cloud applications.

Time for a different approach
To accelerate the move to the cloud, the network must offer tools and processes that predictably automate previously manual processes, streamlining orchestration of both physical and virtual resources to give businesses speed and reliability. The tools and process must allow for network provisioning to account for the application requirements to provide users with the anticipated service levels and experience. At the same time, the data centre network must be simpler and flatter to speed performance of federated workflows and VM mobility.

Virtualizing the entire network by providing a single control plane across the end-to-end network, from the data centre to the campus and branch, is achieved by applying a new approach towards the control of network traffic. The abstraction layer created through a single control plane across the entire network enables IT to orchestrate the network using policies instead of managing device-by-device as conducted on traditional networks. This approach is known as software defined networking.

Through virtualization of the entire network, from the application to the user, IT can use orchestration tools to characterize the delivery requirements of an application and provision a virtual network that meets the service levels and experience expected by the user. HEAnet Conference, 2012