To help our customers get to grips with the latest networking terms and acronyms, Westbase.io released a “Networking 101: A Glossary of Terms” help guide. To provide even more insight into the networking industry, we also run a regular “What Is” blog series.
In this week’s edition we look at software-defined networking.
What is software-defined networking?
Software-defined networking (SDN) encompasses multiple types of network technologies designed to make enterprise networks as flexible and agile as possible, and to support the virtualised server and storage infrastructure of modern data centres. The aim of SDN is to enable network administrators and engineers to respond quickly to changing business requirements, by allowing them to centrally control the network.
At its core, software-defined networking separates the network “brains” from the “muscles”, creating a control logic which is run using software in the Cloud rather than on the physical hardware device, as in traditional networking. This means that rather than decisions being made and controlled by the hardware device, the decision is made in the Cloud and the hardware is then told what to do instead – enabling the network admin to shape traffic centrally without having to touch individual switches, delivering services to wherever they are needed in the network, whenever they are needed.
The importance of software-defined networking to hybrid services
Businesses today are adopting cloud, mobile, and Internet of Things technologies, which are changing the face of the enterprise network – and with this expansion of the network edge, and the centralisation of systems, hybrid networking has become a must. Traditionally run over wired services, today’s networks need to embrace wireless, cellular and satellite services as well in order to connect and support the latest technologies.
Hybrid networking is therefore all about maximising flexibility and scalability in the enterprise network, deploying different types of connectivity services for different applications in a single, seamless solution. Software-defined networking is important to this as it expands hybrid networking capabilities further by providing an overlay network which secures and manages all traffic across the entire network from one central controller.
The next-generation WAN: SD-WAN
As networks become more highly distributed, enterprises are moving away from local area networks (LAN) to next-generation wide area networks (WAN) in which they’re leveraging the public Internet in place of traditional private IP networks. Software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) is essential to this as it enables organisations to connect individual devices, branch networks and “things” together securely across the Internet, creating a network perimeter which can reach anywhere while still securing and controlling the traffic within it.