One of the biggest places where vendors are experimenting on the contemporary computing landscape is in the area of doing what was once possible only on the hardware level through software and virtualization. It’s not always the easiest conceptually to wrap your mind around if you’re not deep into the IT trade, but the trend of software-defined services is worth keeping an eye on.
After all, some such similar technological concepts, like machine virtualization, have become central to the server management landscape. And just in the past two or three years within the broader world of the data center, hyperconverged systems with software-defined components are catching on to address concerns about scalability, compatibility, and ease of management posed by traditional physical component-based data centers.
So is software-defined networking (SDN) set to be the next big thing? Will it allow the biggest enterprises handling some of the biggest data workloads to transcend hardware limitations? It may be too early to tell. But here are three characteristics that your customers might find interesting about this new trend that will make them want to take a deeper dive.
1. Building Out Monitoring Hardware in Software Form
Siphoning off cloned packets of network traffic for security monitoring purposes is a popular data center tactic, but given the size of data centers and the tremendous number of ports that need to be covered in order to mirror the traffic with hardware, researchers have looked for better ways to capture and understand traffic and sort through the noise. SDN may offer a solution by allowing high-level techs to create a software version of a port mirror that can handle deep monitoring on a level heretofore only possible through the use of expensive hardware.
2. An Increase in Mobile Agility
In the workplace, as in daily life, mobile device traffic has skyrocketed in recent years. Hardware-based networks face concerns about resource provisioning, network policies, and other problems pertaining to how to deal with all that traffic. Benefits of SDN include promises to alleviate such concerns by allowing techs to build in software solutions where the hardware provides inadequate resources for managing the traffic flow.
3. Open-Source Capabilities
Many of the proponents of SDN are enthusiastic about the promise of unlocking networking from individual hardware vendors and managing the flow of data packets through open-source software.
The worlds of software development and Web development have both seen renaissances since the advent of open-source collaborations, and the use of open-source software has indeed extended to some degree to the business world. Because open-source software is not necessarily tied to—or supported by—one particular vendor, as in the case of proprietary software, using such products can fundamentally change the business, licensing, and hiring relationships around software deployed in an enterprise. Benefits of SDN could lead to equally interesting arrangements, and opportunities to sell add-ons and consulting, on the network level.
What Does the Future Hold?
SDN is really just in its infancy, and as enterprises look for and discover the right use cases to demand such deployments, we could very well see SDN becoming a more frequently implemented technology. As a solution provider, it never hurts to keep your clients up to speed on these sorts of innovations in order to keep them thinking of where things are going. As recent history has shown, in the world of enterprise technology, this year’s high-level tech experiments are often the baseline for doing business five years down the road.
Where have you seen SDN successfully implemented?