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Software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV) promise to rewrite the rules of network design, engineering, configuration and management. Their impact is being felt across the stakeholder spectrum from OEMs to telecom operators. The number of companies associated with NFV and SDN is already in three digits. What are SDN and NFV? At the risk of oversimplifying things, it can be said that SDN decouples the control and forwarding functions, and NFV heralds the advent of virtualization in the network equipment space. At individual vendor level, there is considerable heterogeneity about what SDN and NFV entail, and their interrelationship. There are ...
In the early 1990s, one industry insider articulated a vision that has only now become a reality “"the network is the computer" (Scott McNealy, Sun Microsystems). The cloud has indeed become the creative visualization of computing on the Internet and in this study Insight Research presents a holistic view of cloud-based services and the criticality of an integrated unified communications (UC) capability as a part of the cloud. We emphasize the need for integrated UC because the following applications must be present in the cloud applications: · instant messaging (IM) and/or social networking and presence; · Internet protocol enabled private automatic ...
The Open Networking Forum (ONF) defines SDN as follows:
“Software-Defined Networking (SDN) is an emerging architecture that is dynamic, manageable, cost-effective, and adaptable, making it ideal for the high-bandwidth, dynamic nature of today's applications. This architecture decouples the network control and forwarding functions enabling the network control to become directly programmable and the underlying infrastructure to be abstracted for applications and network services.”
It is clear from ONF’s definition that the primary objective of SDN is to support the dynamic application infrastructure. A deeper analysis of the definition highlights two important characteristics of a Software Defined Network. These are decoupling control from forwarding function and providing programmable, centralized network control.
Before the advent of server virtualization and SDN, the IT infrastructure was comprised of x86 servers running different operating systems. These servers were interconnected using networking hardware such as switches, routers and firewalls. Since applications also required specific operating systems, they were hosted on dedicated hardware servers. The entire infrastructure was networked physically and in case of any problems it was common to replace faulty hardware. It is well understood that hardware replacement was a complicated and slow process that impacts the availability of an application.
As IT applications evolved, the first wave of change in the underlying infrastructure was server virtualization. Instead of running a single, fixed operating system on a server, virtualization technologies allowed multiple operating systems to be executed on a single server. This emulation of multiple operating systems was supported by a software called the hypervisor. Applications running inside a virtualized server were unaware that they were using virtual CPU and memory. This decoupling of applications from the underlying physical infrastructure was a game changer IT organizations.
It was now possible to migrate a virtualized server and the application to an altogether new server with minimal downtime. This had a direct and positive impact on how application could be resilient to hardware problems. The application and the virtualized server was rapidly becoming very dynamic; therefore, flexibility was the need of the hour. While the physical servers were still interconnected using network hardware, there was a clear need for a new network architecture that adapted to the needs of the dynamic applications running in virtualized servers. This led several industry players to start the journey towards Software Defined Network or SDN.