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What You Need to Know About Software Defined Networking — and How to Get There


By Brian Quah


In 1989, there was a major shift in Ethernet bridging with the birth of Ethernet switching. A small company named Kalpana developed the first Ethernet switch, which enables incoming packets to be forwarded to bridged ports based on destination MAC address. This helped significantly in reducing the forwarding latency and the processing load on the network device.

Software Defined Networking (SDN) is the next big disruptive innovation that will hit the networking industry. HP Virtual Application Networks can help your organization realize the benefit of SDN technology (as explained in this blog by Kowshik Bhat, Global Solution Marketing manager for HP Networking: Checking in on the state of Software Defined Networking).

In my opinion, SDN is the third wave in the drive to IT Convergence. The first wave was back in the late 90’s, when VMware was developing technologies to virtualize physical servers. Following that came the convergence of SAN and LAN technologies with FCoE and iSCSI. This allowed IT to share the large compute power of servers today and consolidate physical servers and storage over a common network, promising better IT operational cost and better utilization of resources.

However, virtualization of servers and hardware created issues for IT managers; the technologies deployed were not manageable, which led to problems such as VM sprawl and loss of application performance visibility. Provisioning of a large virtual IT environment was also becoming more difficult. It sometimes took months to provision IT compute services for business applications. This is why IT orchestration software, such as VMware vCenter and HP AP4SaaS, is becoming popular.

As the adoption of IT virtualizations matured, the IT Network Infrastructure is becoming more monolithic and rigid. VMWare vMotion technologies for server and storage allowed IT infrastructure to be flexible and enhanced availability, but often existing network infrastructure restrictions limited the full benefit of the vMotion capabilities.

This is where SDN concept comes in — it attempts to address this inflexibility. The SDN concept of decoupling the Control Plane from the Data Plane allows deployment of vMotion without the restriction.

However, an SDN architecture based on OpenFlow protocol differs greatly from existing data communication networks. How will IT organizations adopt such disruptive technology? It’s my belief that the adoption of SDN is a journey that comprises defined milestones. This coming year, CIOs and senior IT executives will identify SDN technology as one of the pillars of their strategic IT architecture.

This week, at Interop New York, HP Technology Services announced several service innovations that can guide your organization on the journey to SDN. It’s the industry’s first comprehensive portfolio of services for Software Defined Networking and Virtual Application Network. And we can help you get started with SDN right now, because HP’s practical transformational approach is proven in other domains, such as Cloud. Check out our three new SDN services:

HP Transformation Experience Workshop gives you insight into SDN transformation benefits and IT implications from the perspective of people, process and technology.

HP Network Provisioning Baseline Assessment Service helps you assess your current network resource provisioning time to deploy applications.

HP SDN Proof of Concept Service helps you assess and report provisioning time improvements achieved with HP VAN technologies.

I’ll take a deeper look at these services in an upcoming blog. Stay tuned!

Brian QuahBrian Quah is the Practice Manager for HP Data Center & Cloud Infrastructure Networking in APAC. Brian is a technologist and system architect who specializes in Large Networking and Data Center technologies.

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