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Eight Big Benefits of Software-Defined Networking

If you are a cloud service provider and want to ensure customers/tenants can move their virtualized workloads without requiring much planning, Software-Defined Networking (SDN) may be the answer to your prayers.

SDN not only reduces the complexity seen in today's networks, but also helps Cloud service providers host millions of virtual networks without the need for common separation isolation methods such as VLAN. SDN also enables network administrators to manage network services from a central management tool by virtualizing physical network connectivity into logical network connectivity. Windows Server Tutorials

While there are many organizations that have implemented SDN solutions in their environment and others are in the process of testing a solution, the many benefits provided by SDN should help push the holdouts to go for SDN implementation in the near future, especially cloud service providers.

Apart from the benefits highlighted below, the biggest advantage of adopting SDN is that it provides a company with the ability to model its physical networking environment into software, which, in turn, helps in reducing the overall CAPEX and OPEX. Here are some specific benefits SDN can offer:

Cost Reduction:First, SDN does not require a huge investment. There are even a few SDN products that are free. And while you'll need to pay a license fee for some SDN solutions such as VMware's NSX, there are a few that ship with the operating system itself, including Microsoft's Hyper-V Network Virtualization.

And since SDN supports Layer 1 through Layer 3 networking models, there's no need to buy expensive networking devices. In other words, the use of SDN in a production environment can help reduce the costs involved in purchasing expensive hardware.

Overhead Reduction: In a physical environment, the isolation for the customer workloads requires configuring VLANs on separate networking devices, including routers, switches, etc. Since most of the networking is done at the SDN, it is easy for service providers to isolate the customer virtual machines from other customers by using various isolation methods available in the SDN.

Physical vs. Virtual Networking Management:Physical environments necessitate collaboration among different teams to get a task done. For example, if you require some modification at a physical networking device, it would often take a considerable amount of time and teamwork in most organizations before the task can be accomplished.

SDN provides you the ability to control the virtual and physical networking by using a central management tool. A virtual administrator can process the necessary changes without needing to collaborate with different teams.

Managing Virtual Packet Forwarding: SDN can help you forward the virtual packets to a software or physical device running on the network. For example, if a virtual machine needs to access the internet, it becomes easy for virtual administrators to provide the necessary configuration to the virtual machine with minimal effort.

Reduced Downtime: Since SDN helps in virtualizing most of the physical networking devices, it becomes easy to perform an upgrade for one piece rather than needing to do it for several devices. SDN also supports snapshotting the configuration, which helps you quickly recover from any failures caused by the upgrades.

Isolation and Traffic Control: Cloud service providers can benefit from centralizing the networking control using a central management tool. At the same time, SDN provides several isolation mechanisms such as configuring ACLs and firewalls at the virtual machine NIC level. You can also define the traffic rules using the SDN management console, which helps in providing full control over the network traffic.

Extensibility: Since SDN is software-based, it is easy to use SDN API references for vendors to extend the capabilities of an SDN solution by developing applications to control the behavior of networking traffic.

Central Networking Management Tool:SDN can deliver all your networking needs in one product, enabling you to control every piece of an organization's network using a central management tool.

Network administrators often find it difficult to manage a physical router's configuration, and it quickly becomes time consuming and tedious when more than one physical router needs to be managed. SDN simplifies the management of physical routers by providing the management APIs in the SDN console.

Nirmal Sharma is a MCSEx3, MCITP and Microsoft MVP in Directory Services. He has specialized in Microsoft Technologies since 1994 and has followed the progression of Microsoft Operating System and software. In his spare time, he likes to help others and share some of his knowledge by writing tips and articles on various sites and contributing to Solution IDs for www.Dynamic-SpotAction.com. Nirmal can be reached at nirmal_sharma@mvps.org.

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This article was originally published on January 20, 2015
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