SDN: Everything You Need to Know

What is software defined networking? If you are wondering what SDN is about, then you are not alone. Aside from network engineers, most people don’t know what it is about. Software Defined Networking is a relatively new approach to planning, building and managing networks. Its design separates the control of the network from the forwarding planes in order to better optimize both elements.

How Does Software Defined Networking Work?

With software-defined networking, the control of the network is centralized by separating the control logic from the off-device resources. Some of the common components of SDN models are Controller, northbound APIs and southbound APIs.

The controller is the brains of the network. It provides a centralized view of the overall network and allows administrators to determine how the system works, and how the forwarding plane controls the network security and traffic.

The northbound APIs are used by the Software Defined Networking to communicate with the apps and business logic above. It helps administrators to deploy services and direct traffic. On the other hand, southbound APIs are used to direct data to the routers and switches below. One of the original southbound APIs is Open Flow, which remains as one of the most used protocols today.

Keep in mind that OpenFlow is not SDN, but only an element of the software defined networking architecture. OpenFlow is an open standard for a communications protocol that allows the control plane to communicate with the forwarding plane. It should be noted that it is not the only protocol available for SDN.

SDN Network Overlay

Another option available for SDN users is a network overlay. Instead of building the whole SDN network from scratch, it can be created as an overage that will utilize an existing physical network. The overlay is made through the use of virtual switches inside tunnels. While it uses the existing physical network, the hardware doesn’t need to be configured to direct the traffic to its destination. Some of the protocols that allow administrators to create network overlay include STT, NVGRE, and VXLAN. Some vendors also offer overlay network solutions.

Most major technology vendors have SDN programs. Some of them are IBM, Cisco, Alcatel, Broadcom, Dell, HP, NEC, Verizon, Intel, Google, Citrix, and Juniper Networks. They strive to improve the development of their products that will allow SDN to take a vital role in IT infrastructure.

Benefits of SDN

You should consider SDN because it has a lot of potential even if it is still in development. It allows an organization to improve their service request response times, reliability, and network security. The organization can also get savings because a lot of processes are automated. The IT department can replace high margin devices with less expensive hardware.

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