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Software Defined Networking
Why the Cloud Is Disrupting Everything
Cloud is accelerating disruption by changing how data centers deploy, develop & consume everything from software & hardware
By: Barbara Porter
Aug. 20, 2014 11:45 PM
Is it just me, or has there been an explosion of buzz words lately? Don't get me wrong, the IT industry innovates at a crazy pace normally, but it seems that things have been evolving faster than ever and that a fundamental change in the way things are done is underway. We can attribute this change to one thing: the cloud. Cloud computing is by no means new, but in 2014 it has come into its own.
Cloud computing is accelerating disruption by changing how data centers deploy, develop and consume everything from software and hardware, to how they offer products and services to their customers.
Let's take a look at a few of these hot technologies and why you'll be adopting some of them, whether you realize it now or not.
Software-Defined Networking (SDN) - What Is It Anyway?
SDN decouples the system that makes decisions about where traffic is sent (the control plane) from the underlying systems that forward traffic to the selected destination (the data plane). The inventors and vendors of these systems claim that this simplifies networking. Through the controller, network administrators can quickly and easily make and push out decisions on how the underlying systems (switches, routers) of the forwarding plane will handle the traffic.
SDN requires some method for the control plane to communicate with the data plane. One such mechanism, OpenFlow, is often misunderstood to be equivalent to SDN, but other mechanisms could also fit into the concept.
By separating the control plane from the forwarding planes, data centers can reduce costs and provide better agility, and who wouldn't want or need that? It does this by:
Network Functions Virtualization (NFV)
Fast forward to today's NFV initiative, which is spearheaded by several of the major telecommunications service providers. The value of NFV is in creating a standards-based approach to virtualizing key telecom applications, radically changing the way telecom networks are built and managed. By doing this, NFV enables those apps to run on industry standard servers. And that of course translates into big cost savings and more flexibility than was previously possible.
What has made NVF suitable for use with commercial off-the shelf (COTS) equipment are the advances made in underlying technology including SDN, faster fabrics (40Gb Ethernet), and more powerful processors.
NFV can be implemented without SDN, although the two solutions can work together. NFV is able to support SDN by providing the infrastructure upon which the SDN software can be run. Both technologies share a common objective, and that is to run on lower cost COTS servers and switches.
Source: etsi.org, whitepaper, Network Functions Virtualization: An Introduction, Benefits, Enablers, Challenges & Call for Action, Oct. 2012
The OpenCompute Project (OCP)
As you can see, there are recurring themes spanning all the aforementioned technologies. In case you missed them: low-cost, energy efficient, non-proprietary, open, scalable, flexible, and agile. Even if you are not looking at redesigning your data center now, you may need to in order to stay competitive.
No matter what technology you choose to deploy, one thing is for sure, the cloud is stressing I/O and I/O bottlenecks will be shifted from where they are today. The further away you get from processing, latency becomes more of a challenge. To plan for the barrage of new technology that's coming your way, look for technologies that reduce latency such as RDMA over Converged Ethernet (RoCE). Also seek out solutions that enable flexible usage of resources and that don't lock you into long-term commitments such as specialized appliances, infrastructure and proprietary software so that you are in a better position to take advantage of new innovations as they become available. Now strap yourself in and get ready for the ride.
1. Open Networking Foundation: "Software-Defined Networking: The New Norm for Networksm" April 13, 2012. Retrieved August 22, 2013.
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