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What Is Software Defined Networking (SDN)?

The traditional methods of network management, which were largely hardware-dependent, are being replaced by a new approach, known as software defined networking (SND). With SDN, control is centralized and programmability is enabled, leading to a more efficient handling of network traffic. This post aims to delve into the nuances of software defined networking, exploring its benefits such as improved network performance, centralized provisioning, reduced operational costs, enhanced scalability, and superior security features. 

What is SND?

Software defined networking (SND) is a modern networking approach that decouples the control plane from the data plane within the network. Control is taken away from the hardware and given to a software application, known as a controller. This allows network administrators to manage network services through abstraction of lower-level functionality. It provides centralized, programmable control of network traffic without requiring physical access to the network’s hardware devices.

The importance of SDN

The importance of SDN lies in its ability to simplify and centralize network management. Through SDN, networks can be programmed to adjust to the changing needs of businesses, reducing the need for manual configuration of networks. It also supports the rapid deployment of new applications, services, and infrastructure.

How does SDN work?

The operation of SDN is based on three layers: the application layer, the control layer, and the infrastructure layer. The application layer includes the business applications that consume the SDN communications services. The control layer, which is the core of an SDN network, has a central controller that maintains a comprehensive view of the network. The infrastructure layer consists of network devices that provide the physical communication between network devices.

Four models of SDN

  1. Open SDN: This model uses open standards and protocols, such as OpenFlow, to communicate between the controller and the networking components.
  2. Software-overlay SDN: This model uses software applications to create network overlays, providing the network abstraction necessary for software-defined networking.
  3. Hybrid SDN: This model combines traditional networking and SDN protocols. In this model, some traffic is managed through an SDN controller while other traffic is managed using traditional network protocols.
  4. Vendor-specific SDN: This model uses proprietary protocols developed by specific vendors.

6 benefits of SDN

SDN offers numerous benefits, including:

1) Improved network performance and efficiency

With the deployment of software defined networking, a significant enhancement in network performance and efficiency is observed. By centralizing control and enabling programmability, network traffic is handled more efficiently, which leads to improved performance.

2) Centralized network provisioning

Software defined networking offers centralized network provisioning. This results in the ability to manage, adjust, and monitor the entire network from a single central point, making the network management process more streamlined and less complex.

3) Reduced operational costs

The operational costs associated with managing and maintaining networks can be significantly reduced through software defined networking. By automating various network functions, the need for manual intervention is reduced, leading to savings in terms of time and resources.

4) Greater scalability

The scalability offered by software defined networking is remarkable. It allows for the easy addition or removal of network components, making it easier for the network to adapt to the changing needs of businesses.

5) Enhanced security features

Security features are enhanced significantly in software defined networking. With a centralized control system, threats can be detected and mitigated more efficiently, leading to a more secure network environment.

6) Increased innovation and reduced vendor lock-in

Software defined networking promotes innovation by providing a platform that is independent of the underlying hardware. This offers freedom from vendor-specific devices and solutions, allowing for greater flexibility and choice.

The future potential of software defined networking

Software defined networking is a transformative technology that can streamline network management and adapt to the evolving needs of businesses. By decoupling the control and data planes, SDN offers a flexible and centralized approach to networking that holds significant potential for the future of IT.

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