Thursday, February 22, 2024

Software Defined Networking- A key ingredient for Network Transformation

Over the last few years, several organizations have developed a profound Interest around software-defined Networking (SDN), software defined access (SDA) and showcased true potential benefits by publishing viewpoints, Proof of concepts, Live demos etc. to educate industry how this new network Technology can bring positive change in whole Value chain by transforming traditional Network Ecosystem into Digital Network Ecosystem. Cloud revolution has re-defined and re-purposed the way Computing, Storage and Infrastructure was dealt in past and has proved to be a key driving factor in rapid Adoption of Software Defined Networks (SDN).

Today each industry be it Automobile, Healthcare, Telecom, Insurance etc. are running Digital Transformation program which generally speaking are more focused around Redefining Business Processes, Technical debt Removal, Application modernization (Cloudification) and Customer experience.

Due to several factors like emerging technologies (AI/ML), need of increased performance/Availability requirements, millions of IoT devices connecting to network, Data/Resource traffic is exponentially increasing and traditional network architecture that was designed in a pre-digitization and pre-cloud era is no longer sustainable and hence need to be re-architected and re-purposed.

It is important to acknowledge that by this wave of Digital Transformation, Networking Architecture should not be forgotten. It is essential to formulate a future proof Network strategy and clearly highlight the need to CXO Executive committee of integrating and transforming Networking Architecture with the Digital Transformation initiative of the enterprise to bring change in QoS and life of customers.

Why SDN is so Important
Software-defined networking (SDN) eliminates the need of manual effort which previously had to be invested in configuring individual switches and routers separately based on vendor-specific protocols. With SDN, it is possible to centrally control traffic and manage how applications and services are delivered by programming all physical and virtual devices through a single SDN controller.

Increased efficiency, improved scalability, flexibility to optimize the network to meet changing Quality of Service (QoS) and meet security requirements are some key attributes of SDN.

In the limelight of IOT’s and 5G’s extensive range of Use cases, This has now become an enterprise reality which is putting an immense pressure on the network Operators to bring these millions of devices/users on their network, without negotiating on the quality of service. Enterprises are influenced by the flexible, agile and scalable attributes of the software-based solutions and are therefore, very much drawn to either adapt or adopt. No doubt SDN is best positioned as an essential Enabler for any organizations before it goes on to adopt IoT/Next Gen Networks etc.

In the world of Cloudification, I think almost each organization is more or less doing their bit to become either Cloud enabled, Cloud based or Cloud ready and are already on the path of Applications/Hardware modernization as part of Digital Transformation initiative. Physical bare metal Servers are now rapidly being replaced by virtualized Cloud Data Centres which eventually provide a greater flexibility and scalability at considerably Reduced costs and that too comes with easy maintenance.

Since many organizations are already moving their OSS/BSS applications onto Cloud (Private/Public/Hybrid) environments, this step generates the need of a consistent, 24 *7 available, reliable and secure network system to support the control and management of critical workloads to the cloud. This is where I think SDN can offer extensive possibilities and range of solutions as opposed to traditional networking architecture.

Architecture ViewPoints
SDN can play an instrumental role in fulfilling organization’s needs (Needs which are generated due to emergence of new Technologies, need of Next Gen Networks, IoT, AI etc.) by allowing Network management Functions to be performed dynamically and in Autonomous way.

Below are points which strengthens and add worth putting SDN as part of Organization’s Network strategy –

  1. Simplifying Network complexity through Policy controls
  2. Controlled and visible Traffic and Network management
  3. Facilitate easy third-party configurations
  4. One Step closer to Network Virtualization
  5. To leverage Open API’s to achieve Reduced TTM
  6. Reduce Hardware/BareMetal footprint and keep cost under control