Data Center Directions
, Regular Visitor
Data Center Directions
SDN Getting on the Path to There
Sep 28, 2012

A number of IT trends—including the consumerization of IT, cloud computing, and social media— present significant opportunities for businesses to improve productivity. Before adopting these technologies, however, organizations try to fully understand the impact they will have on the underlying infrastructure and, more specifically, the network environment, since it is a critical enabler for all of these services. As a result organizations are looking to innovation in the network to meet their business needs.

Trends Impacting the Network
As organizations continue to innovate and expand their virtualized environments beyond the simple benefits of consolidation to a more agile infrastructure, they have begun to build out private clouds. These agile IT environments enable business managers to rapidly turn up new services to meet unexpected demand or requirements. However, this abstraction layer can create blind spots in the infrastructure and make meeting compliance requirements difficult.


Social media applications present another challenge as the explosion in the number of network-connected devices opens up avenues to new applications and collaboration tools. Well known applications such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter often blur the lines between business and personal usage and video create demands on the network. The question is how to ensure performance, while protecting data ensuring privacy.


We are seeing a huge increase in mobile devices and the ability to bring a personal device to work is quickly becoming the norm as more users adopt new technologies in the form of smart phones, tablet computers, and smaller notebooks. Providing support for mobile devices greatly increases the number of devices and throughput requirements needed for the campus network. These devices may also impact data security, and increase the threat of malware or uninvited devices getting into the network.

How to Meet the Challenge

Many organizations are faced with the dilemma of how to take advantage of these new opportunities to improve business productivity, yet avoid the associated complexities or challenges while still ensuring a quality user experience. From a networking perspective, organizations need new architectures that can provide the appropriate levels of mobility, scale, resiliency, and security to overcome complexity.

To date, the industry has tried to resolve these issues through deploying additional instrumentation, however these are costly, limited in scope and don’t solve all of the issues. Automation is another area of investigation to overcome the sheer number of manual processes that administrators must perform. However, the scripting process itself is a manual one, requiring time, skills, and resources to develop. Organizations have also looked at creating a simplified network architecture can enable a highly dynamic and virtualized environment.


SDN Steps up to Meet the Challenge
One new industry initiative, software-defined networking (SDN), holds a tremendous amount of promise for addressing new requirements needed for the future of networking. SDN can help in many areas. It can provide centralized command-and-control, providing a common control plane across wired and wireless devices for end-to-end service delivery.  SDN can also provide distributed enforcement, with the ability to enforce policies across a wired and wireless campus network to the endpoints as well as the network perimeter which will dramatically reduce the number of manual processes that must be performed by the network staff. It will also provide a more secure environment.  SDN also provides integrated services and programmability by opening up the access to the network and enabling programmable interfaces, so that organizations can deliver an integrated approach with either internal or third-party software vendors for network services.


Getting on the Path to SDN
However, SDN is still nascent and will require time to develop. Fortunately Juniper Networks recognize these problems and have been developing solutions to help organization take advantage of these IT trends today, while also preparing them for future SDN-enabled environments. For more information see this paper with market research by ESG on challenges and details on how Juniper’s EX Series switches and the Juniper Networks Junos operating system help accomplish the goal of building your network to meet your business requirements, Getting on the Path to SDN.