SDN Capabilities – EMA

An EMA Researcher's opinion on SDN capabilities like Agility, Compatibility, Visibility and Capacity Planning.

SDN Capabilities – An Expert’s Point of View (5 min)

  • Shamus McGillicuddy, Senior Analyst, EMA Research

How does agility relate to SDN?

  • Regardless of what kind of SDN architecture you deploy, it will be characterized by having ore programmability than legacy network infrastructure. This programmability makes the network more agile
  • being able to build out data center resources first and then allocate those to the actual applications once they are identified.

What level of compatibility should buyers demand?

  • Layer 2 / Layer 3 is a CRITICAL success factor. MUST be compatible with everything else in the network. L2/L3 is essential. Especially since legacy and SDN networks will coexist for some time.
  • MUST have a CLI command line since NetOps was born to the CLI/Script ingenuity. IT orgs will likely use a mix of CLI and GUI management as they transition

What kind of new visibility requirements do users of SDN have?

  • In terms of performance management, the #1 new requirement is the ability to understand and adjust monitoring to on-demand capacity changes. #2 is network path visualization. They also want the ability to make programmatic changes to the network for performance problem remediation.
  • From a troubleshooting perspective, SDN adopters need visibility into flows rather than packets. They told us they need reports on SDN flow activity and also reports on how network conditions affect those SDN flows.

How does SDN simplify capacity planning?

  • Fluid network architecture is one of THE defining characteristics of SDN for early adopters. This means that they view SDN as a technology that can provide on-demand capacity network applications and services.
  • We have data that support this. We asked early adopters to identify the engineering and operational improvements that data center SDN technology support. Here is what topped the list:
    • Increased network automation
    • Application-specific network optimization
    • Rapid provisioning of network services
    • Improved traffic engineering